The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

As Seen on TV

Week before Thanksgiving 2022!

It’s mostly comics this week, but I wanted to mention a couple of TV picks first as well!

After a highly accessible episode of Star Trek : Prodigy last week, we’re going into full on continuity mode. In fact, it’s really the one we’ve been waiting for… Where Dall meets the real Captain Janeway… And of course messes it all up. The scallywag from the doomed star base they visited a couple episodes ago is still slandering them in an attempt to make himself look good, the crew of the Protostar he’s having a hard time connecting with Starfleet. It’s only made harder by the fact that they are ship has a weapon inside it just waiting to infect any other ship or Starfleet entity they come in to contact with. As much as I enjoy the standalone episodes, I have to admit, the payoff we’re getting here has been really good. This episode feels a little bit more Star Wars than Star Trek though, taking place at a remote outpost that feels like a frozen Mos Eisley. Still, they make it work, and leave us on a cliffhanger that just has me squirming in my seat waiting for more.

Stargirl too. Stargirl has at this point, gone full on soap opera continuity. Basically, the show is going to be in accessible to anyone newly discovering it, but then again, I supposed they can afford to be, considering they’re not getting a fourth season.

That’s what makes it so unusual to me that DC would pick this time to launch a new Stargirl miniseries. Stargirl : The Lost Children teams her up with Red Arrow, in a relationship that feels very much like her friendship with Yolanda on the Stargirl TV show. Together they’re out to investigate the disappearance of all of the kids sidekicks from the DCU. Not the current ones, but rather the classic ones… Truth be told I don’t recognize a lot of these guys. Airwave, definitely. But a lot of these are more obscure ones that I’ve only ever heard whispered of long ago in legends. Still, the amount of goodwill that the television series has built with me, it’s got me jumping into this to see where they go. Legacy characters have always been a thing for me, and mixing it with a hero that I’ve recently come to know and love is a great way of doing this.

Really, it feels like it’s teen sidekicks all around. this month.

I somehow missed issue eight of Worlds Finest, so I grabbed that and issue nine together. We still have that kind of kryptonian refugee from another world or dimension and their integrating him into the teen titans. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of the Titans, so this is a bit of a low point for me… On the other hand, it’s just nice to spend time here in a DC universe that I know and recognize, as opposed to what the DCU has become in the last five or six years. That’s probably worlds finest greatest strength. Pure superhero stories in a setting in style and at legacy readers. It’s why I’m still gonna be reading this thing even when they’re featuring characters like the Titans that I just don’t care about.

Speaking of characters I don’t care about, you can pretty much skip She-Hulk this month. It’s featuring a side quest… Setting up supporting characters or villains or something along those lines… But Jen really doesn’t show up, and this issue isn’t actually about her. I have to be honest. I didn’t buy this one. I was going to, but it’s just not worth it to me this month.

On the other hand, Nightwing just continues to be stellar. I was an issue behind on that one as well, so it’s a back to back read. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Issue 97 is kind of some loose ends with a good straightforward adventure, and one of the great bits of banter that I’ve really been enjoying between dick and Barbara regarding this month’s villainous psycho whos carving out vital organs from his victims.

 

But issue 98… Oh issue 98!

You may or may not know that I am a fan of bat mite. I mean, The characters in general always appeal to me. Spider ham is another one on that list (no curiously enough, Mr. missile pic isn’t. I always found him frustrating and annoying rather than fun) well it seems like Batman’s not the only one out there in the DC universe who can attract a fifth dimensional imp… And issue 98 introduces us to Nite-Mite.

It’s not all over the top goofiness, but just enough of it, and Nite-Mite is illustrated with just enough cartoonish joy to make him fun but not to push him over the top into irritating. It’s well balanced and well handled, and I love it. I don’t want to see it every issue, but this was a wonderful surprise, and one of the reasons why I still feel like Nightwing has got his groove back. We’re back to the heights of the Chuck Dixon run back in the 90s. It’s just that good. Honestly, they should just bite the bullet and rebrand this as Nightwing and Batgirl… Because it’s just the perfect team the way it’s being written right now.

 

I Hate Fairyland is back and I have mixed feelings about it. See, the thing is I really enjoyed I Hate Fairyland during its original run. There’s something about that juxtaposition of the hyper violent angry a little girl hacking and slashing her way through a fairy tale universe. It was great fun. But if you want a return to I Hate Fairyland it has to get us back to basics. It has to reestablish the character… And as such we we see what happened to poor Gert after she returned to the real world. It’s not just that she can’t adjust, I don’t think she ever was meant for this world in the first place. She’s a drunken slacker loser. That kind of breaks my heart. Somebody once said that if you really love the characters and survivors of a horror movie, the last thing you want is for a sequel to come out… Because much worse is coming their way if they have to return. I almost feel like That applies to I Hate Fairyland. I liked seeing the psycho little girl, but it feels different watching that grown-up version of her stumble through adult life. Maybe it’ll be better once we get into the thick of the series. I hope so, because this first issue re-introduction was just a downer.

New Star Trek this month too. I guess Star Trek Resurgence is based on a game? I know nothing about this. But it’s taking place in the TNG movie time period, and that’s a definite plus for me. It’s life on a starship outside of the Enterprise… And that’s actually also something I enjoy. An unknown unique ship, a peek into the workings of a crew that we don’t normally see, I’ve always dug that. It’s nicely illustrated and it’s actually got me feeling a lot more goodwill to it than I did with the new Star Trek ongoing featuring Sisko and Paris and Scotty and what not. I almost feel like this may be the Star Trek series to follow… Will definitely find out. But I’m glad that IDW comics are leaning into the license. I’m especially glad that we’re getting stuff outside of the Bad Robot “prime” timeline, the Abrams “Kelvin” timeline, and instead getting back in that separate original Paramount universe. More of that please

I’m still behind on Iron Man and ghost rider I think. By the time I can get into that part of the stack, they’ll probably be a new Spider-Man out too… All stuff I can talk about next week. But before I go I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the Gambit miniseries that’s already in its fifth issue. How did I not know about this? I suppose probably because most of the X books are dreck, and a shadow of their former glory. But this is good. This is really fun. The premise is that after a recent encounter with the villians Nanny and Orphan Maker, storm was de-aged back to childhood. That messes with both her power… and her memory. Remy rescues her from the Shadow King and they head off on their own adventures. See the thing is, the storm was a thief when she was a kid, back in Cairo. It’s something that she has in common with Gambit, making him an ideal mentor for her. Marvel is describing this as an untold chapter in Gambits life, which means I have NO idea when this is set and that’s cool with me. Because what we get is a really rollicking adventure with gambit and little storm… And the chemistry between the two is just amazing. I’m a little late to this game, so I’m hoping to get this collected in trade, but either way, it’s definitely worth your time and attention. Go check this out.


 

 

 

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Week of 11-9-22

There’s times when I think I’m really enjoying Sventoonie even better than Svengoolie. There’s something to be said for blowing through some of these old Public Domain movies and encapsulating them into a half hour show with host bits rather than trying to present the whole thing and watch the same old movies again and again (it’s one of the things that really burned me out with online Horror Hosts like you see on the Monster Channel). Indeed, it worked way better for Bucket of Blood and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The quick summary and visit on those was everything I needed to feel satisfied, almost like watching the movie without actually watching a movie (I have similar feelings about movie trailer compilations). It’s even better though last week, because the subject was Night Tide… A killer mermaid movie that I’ve never seen. And yet, I still feel like I’ve pretty much seen the whole thing. The show makes good use of jaws parodies and general schtick , and it’s just in enormously fun to watch. On the other hand, you have nights like this week where they screen clips of Brother from Another Planet. It’s another one I’ve never seen, and now I feel like I must go seek it out. I absolutely have to know what this is about! Again, the real beauty of these kind of shows. I’m gonna actually be pretty sad when I finish up this quickie season.

Stargirl remains solid. Actually, you kind of expect them to be better than solid, you’d expect them to be really good considering we’re entering the end of the series. But this week really felt more like part two, a good follow up from last week and the attack on the elder icicles. Seth Greens Thunderbolt continues to be the high point of the series for me. I feel like they’ve gotten into the right groove with him now. They don’t overuse him… That character could get annoying really fast if overexposed. On the other hand they don’t underuse him either… The way they did all of last season. He is a genuinely good character, and watching him and the two boys kind of do their own mini Scooby gang thing… The young All-Stars instead of the JSA, it’s really been fun. For me that’s the perfect B storyline. A group of young burgeoning superheroes to balance out the teenage jSA that really keeps the show together. Like I said, solid. I will admit though, we got some killing at the end that really took me by surprise. It shouldn’t, considering that since this is the end of the series, anything goes. But still, I was a little shocked and sad. You never know when they’re going to kill off the character that you like.

Speaking of solid, the only comic book worth mentioning this week really was Amazing Spider-Man #13 which resolved the current goblin story nicely while setting up more stuff happening down the line. They are still maintaining that interesting feel with all of the supporting characters, and that’s really the thing that’s been keeping me coming back to this book during this run.

Solid is also the word to describe Nailed It. I know I’m using that description a lot, but average television is still better than bad TV, so I’ll take it. I only have a minor quibble with this particular season. As much as I like the fact that they’re going Halloween this time around, I wish they pick different subjects. Look, I’m familiar with the Witcher, and I’ve heard of the umbrella academy. I don’t watch either of them. Yes, I Realize it’s basically cross series promotion on the same network, but only having a passing familiarity with these series makes me wish they had picked something with a wider familiarity. Do Dracula and Frankenstein instead of just hitting your other network shows. With that said, there’s not a whole lot to complain about. Really if that’s my biggest beef, then I’d say the show is still doing pretty good. Honestly, I wish they’d have longer seasons and more of them. This one’s been a perennial favorite in our home since the kids discovered it and it’s really the only context I enjoy Nicole Byer in!

Speaking of my kids, I recently noticed something strange. My younger daughter is obsessively watching the 100. My older daughter just finished seven seeds and is considering going back to the hunger games. My wife is watching a series called the society. Basically they’re all watching TV shows set in fairly post-apocalyptic settings where the kids are left on their own to try and build some sort of a society. They’re all nihilistic and depressing. I on the other hand and obsessively watching Star Trek Prodigy. It’s also about a bunch of kids left to their own devices, but in the best traditions of Star Trek, it’s hopeful and optimistic! 

The Trek Culture channel over on YouTube made an interesting observation this week. They pointed out that this weeks episode actually acts as a great jumping on point… A good introduction to anybody who has been watching the series. You’re absolutely right about this. Aside from the opening where Jayne was still trying to get information about the lost Protostar from a semi catatonic diviner, the story is actually. A nice straightforward adventure for the crew of the Protostar. It begins with some narration from Dahl, explaining that the Protostar has a weapon hidden on it, one that is designed to infect Starfleet if they ever come in contact with them, or even open up a hail. Until they can figure out how to get rid of it – a task that is driving Jayne come mad – they’re going to continue to try and Explore space, and help people. To that end, they’re answering a distress call (And doing it in uniforms by the way. As much as I’m not a big fan of these uniforms, I’m so glad to see they they are staying in them most of the time now. Uniforms are a PART of the Star Trek aesthetic, even if this current production team seems to hate them.).

What they discover is an unknown planet populated by people with very familiar names like Keurk and Suoo-looh, wearing a stitched together facsimiles of original series uniforms. Turns out, the shuttlecraft Galileo somehow got lost and crashed here with a supporting character from a single episode of the original series, Ensign Garrovick, from the episode “Obsession.” Garrovick accidentally First Contacts them… mostly to warn them away from the forest where fuel is leaking from the shuttlecraft . It’s a fun episode, and good storytelling. There’s a lot of ‘member berries in this one though, and I know that’s something I’ve complained about in the past. The thing is, it works here. This is a story that is built around all those callbacks. It’s designed around the exploration of a society that came into contact with Starfleet, but nobody knew. 100 years later, these characters are the stuff of legend, passed down through oral tradition… Well, oral tradition with a theater kid twist. It makes these callbacks feel organic. We have a crashed shuttlecraft, images of the bridge, and all these characters being able to imitate the motions and the controls of the Enterprise. At no point do I feel like it’s just ‘member berries for the sake of “hey remember this?? You love this!“ It’s not patronizing, like watching Mariner on Lower Decks suddenly whip out a batlith to cut someone’s arm with just because it’s random and funny and “remember Klingons? You love Klingons!“ This works. It just feels right, Especially considering it doesn’t happen every week.

I was crushed to learn that the Big Bad B Movie show with Leopold and Lenora has met its end. Change of management means no third season, but you can still catch Lenora on her YouTube show up on the found footage fest channel. Check out Lenora’s Midnight Rental and see what you think.

We’ll be back with more television and comics next week! (Probably).


Week of 10-25-22

Stargirl is totally gearing up for a spin off. I swear it is. This weeks episode of infinity Inc. part two, resolves the whole story about Jade searching for her brother obsidian. I’m not sure if I’m completely on board with the look they’ve given him sit in here, it’s really just black and smoky… And they’re really leaning in to the idea that he is shadow and that she is light. I literally said to myself “they’re really trying to go for their own version of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger aren’t they?“. Still, there’s worse directions they could go. The other thing that really amuses me is how the episode kept the shade and stripes he trapped in the Shadowlands for most of the hour. The thing about the Shadowlands… You know how the CW kinda has this thing where you’re constantly seeing “attractive people standing in dark hallways talking about their feelings“? Well that’s basically what the Shadowlands is. It’s the ultimate dark hallway for people to sit and talk about their feelings as their deepest fears and regrets are probed. It amuses me to see The CW double down on this… They’ve practically gone meta with It.

But all around, it was a nice little side quest. This two episode story doesn’t really feed into the whole rest of the seasons whodunnit theme, but rather, as I said, seems to be setting up a spin off series. As Jenny and Todd leaves The asylum – the helix house, Mr. Bones ponder as whether or not he should put together a team of his own, just like Stargirl has. Jade and Obsidian on the other hand, are heading out to find the son of the Sandman. He’s having dreams that for tell the future, and may need help. It’s a heck of a loose end that they’re just dangling there. Series biz. Watch and see if they don’t throw together an infinity Inc. series to be announced next summer or fall (especially since Stargirl has now been cancelled), once the CW And Warner Bros. have shaken out their transition. It may not be on the CW, but I bet it’ll still show up SOMEWHERE (And feature bits of the Stargirl crew too).

I was delighted to see that Star Trek Prodigy was back. I knew it was coming out sometime in late fall or winter, but never had any real indication of when. I’m grateful that there’s actually Star Trek out there that I can watch, and this continues to be the best of all the modern Star Trek series. We see the kids pulling up the Protostar to the nearest star base… Basically a relay station on the edge of the known galaxy. I’m actually kind of delighted to see that the uniforms look pretty correct. They’ve added black to the shoulders, but otherwise it’s the future uniform from all good things, including thesame. com badge. I always liked this look, and the black gives it a bit more of a transitionary look… Like they’re eventually going to be a solid color rather than the TNG style they are evoking. And also confirms that strange and ugly pajama like uniforms the kids are wearing were specific to the protostar. How do we know? Because we get flashbacks to the Protostar’s launch and Janeway sending off Captain Chakotay. It’s good stuff, and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed these characters as much as I do in this show. it’s not just nostalgia, Chakotay is given an actual role here, and Janeway just feels right in both her admiral role and in the mentor role that we get on the ship.

It’s also great to see the crew back. We get a little bit more information on their races. Even with Dall, we get clues to his identity… Some thing that’s been a minor subplot throughout the whole thing. Of course, it can’t go smoothly… Drednok, the robot bad guy from last season has been hiding his consciousness in the ships computer, and is now ready to emerge. He downloads himself into the star base and wreaks some havoc there, giving us a nice little adventure on the front end. In the b story on the other hand, we have Admiral Janeway on an expedition to figure out what happened to the protostar and find Kote. Well, she doesn’t find him… But she does find The Diviner (our head bad guy) floating in suspended animation. We’ll see what kind of answer if she gets from him in the next episode!

You know, with all of the talk about the television that I watched… There is a show I have neglected to talk about. It’s because I generally catch it late, and because it’s obviously just a bit of a Temporary fill in for Halloween. You may have noticed occasionally that I happen to be an old fan of horror hosts. In Cleveland we had big chuck and little John, but back in the 60s 70s and 80s almost every market had something. Elvira was probably the most well-known, managing to go national for a bit, and in Chicago, there was Svengoolie. Recently our cable package shuffled again, and I discovered that added METV to the lineup. I have been overjoyed to be able to watch Sven again, even thoguh I don’t usually talk abotu it in the blog since it’s mostly a movie show (Though from time to time, I do review the movies he screens!). This year, during spooky season, they’ve expanded his presence, giving him extra blocks of shows like the twilight zone to host, and tagging on a special exploring the hosts history. But the other thing that they’ve done, is added An after show… Sven Tooney. Like the old-fashioned local UHF stations, METV also has kids programming in the morning. It’s a block of cartoons, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, that sort of thing. It’s hosted by Bill Leff and Toony. Toony is a puppet of a red tuna… And every now and then he’ll pop over to Sven’s show, to harass Svengoolie’s rubber chicken Kerwin. Well apparently last year, when I couldn’t watch the show, they spun Tooney off into his own spoof of Svengoolie show. Sventoonie! Apparently he’s returned this year, with his own parody of Sven’s show where he, his DJ blobby (A blob fish with an electric charge like an eel), and Trevor, a dead video store clerk, do some comedy bits and talk about old public domain movies. They cut the film up so that they can fast forward and summarize it, while still throwing in their own bits. I actually almost enjoy this more than Svengoolie! The thing is, with a horror host, in that two hour block, you get about 15 minutes of the host. The rest is the movie and commercials. That’s still fairly true here, but it’s a half hour show, so 50% or better is dedicated to the hosts and quite frankly that’s what we’re here to watch! It’s a great little thing to sit down and watch at lunchtime on Sundays, and a really nice companion to Sven’s show. Looks like it’s only going to be the six episodes this year, and that’s fine. It would probably grow old fast if it were overexposed all year, but I’ve really been having fun with this, and it’s been the highlight of my week this October.

With that said, Happy Halloween to everyone, and will be back next week, hopefully with some more thoughts on Netflix CGI he-man and the masters of the universe!


The Week of 10/19/22

So, Nailed It is back, it’s a kind of Halloween themed series, but I gotta say I love the fact that this show has managed to hang in there this long. Netflix shows, even the quickie half-hour things like this are generally one to three seasons and done, but somehow, nailed it just keeps coming back. It’s an absolute delight for all of us in my family, and I hope this thing keeps going for many many years to come.

Then there’s Stargirl. We finally get to see Jade’s brother Obsidian… and he’s gay. It’s vitally important that you understand he’s gay. It’s terribly, terribly essential that they show you that he’s gay, and they have to do it within seconds of meeting him! It doesn’t actually have anything to do with the story, it never comes up again, and doesn’t drive the character thematically. In fact, now that I think about it, you could just as easily, (perhaps even more easily) have introduced him as a solo runaway before the rent-a-cops pick him up and deliver him to the Infinity Inc. guys, but no, it’s essential that we make sure you know he’s gay!

It’s one of the things that bothers me because Stargirl has, thus far, mostly been above this sort of ham-fisted virtue signaling. We got a little hint of social justice during summer school with Eclipso’s temptation of Beth, but it was mild, and organic to the story. This is just shoved in for no reason, very “in your face” and it pulls me out of the story. That kind of stuff is also the first sign of a CW show getting ready to jump the shark. Supergirl took a hard left turn into social justice first, and story as an afterthought. So did Legends, and Batwoman was basically defined by it from the word go. One of the things I’ve been enjoying about Stargirl (and for that matter Superman and Lois) is that they’ve been largely free of this sort of thing, and when it does show up, it’s nuanced and generally background… And organic part of a story. Perhaps I’m overreacting, but foodI’ve been enjoying Stargirl so much that it would be a real shame to see it go the way of a lot of the hyper politicized shows that the superhero genre seems to be plagued with. The rest of the episode is solid. We get some good green lantern action with Jade, and green lantern stuff is always welcome. There’s still some struggle as Courtney tries to regain her friends trust and we get a fairly shocking development with Yolanda right at the end of the episode. It’s super hero soap opera to be sure, but I’m a sucker for that sort of thing.

Got to close out by mentioning that The Food that Built America is back as well, although the format seems to have changed. It feels like they’re matching multiple episodes together… Building on The stories they’ve already told us. It’s very much a second season kind of feel to it… A continuation with some continuity to it. Interesting and unexpected for a documentary series like this. Still, I’m riveted, and it makes for good Sunday night viewing. It’s still a high recommend, if you haven’t seen this show, you should check it out. 

As for me, I think it’s about time I pull out my copy of the great pumpkin!

 


Week of 9-22-22

I finally did it! I finally got around to catching up on Stargirl! I’m not sure why I dropped off exactly… I know that Maddie wasn’t really interested in watching it much anymore, but honestly, I thought I Was way further behind than this. There were only four episodes left in the Summer School season, and maybe it’s just because we’re at the climax, but wow, did they deliver.

So, where were we? Eclipse it was free, he’d blasted shiv into oblivion, and was now in the process of haunting each of the JSA members. That’s not too big of a problem, because they’re each dealing with her own baggage. Yolanda still has guilt over killing Brainwave Jr, Beth is watching her parents marriage fall apart, and her only solace is the slight contact she’s managed to get with the original Doctor Midnight. Hourman’s hourglass is broken, and for some reason he’s developing a bond with Solomon Grundy… All of this is fertile ground for Eclipso to work in. Nevertheless, they manage to come together to try and defeat a clip so… And the process, Stargirl is blasted away. It’s pretty shocking, considering how close to the end of the series we are… But we discover that what’s happened is she’s been banished to a shadow realm. a sort of purgatory where Eclipso can toy with her and others, to feed off their negative emotions. It turns out, Shiv is also there… As well as Dr. Midnight. With the help of the shade end guidance from Dr. Midnights goggles, Courtney’s parents managed to rescue them, and heading for the final showdown.

It’s really good, really well done. The characters are rich and complex, and current politics, while sneaking in around the edges, are kept to a minimum… Kind of feels like the good old days.

With that finished, it’s time to move from the summer school season into the Frenemies season. I don’t know if this will be a full 22 episode run or another 13… I have to admit, doing the 13 episode runs has really worked for stalker all. It’s giving them just enough time to do what they need without bogging everything down with filler.

If I have any real complaint about the Frenemies season… It’s that they’re building it as a murder mystery, but the title doesn’t feel congruent with it. Frenemies is a very high school kind of term, well this is leaning heavily into the sort of Agatha Christie murder mystery milieu. On the other hand, it makes sense because the beast storyline is an exploration of whether or not villains can really change… Whether they can truly reform and become allies. This is a very superman take. I pointed this out both and superman and early Supergirl… That part of what they want to do is take the bad guys, find them and fix them… Maybe turn them into friends instead of enemies. Courtney’s cut very much from that same sort of mold… Really trying to embrace shiv and incorporate her into the justice society. Of course sports master and his wife have also moved in right next-door to her, complicating things more than a little bit. Artemis also wants a spot on the GSA… And let’s just say, her mother is quite insistent. Hon

She Hulk on the other hand is a whole different story.

I gotta tell you, it almost feels like a chore watching the show now. Like, I don’t want to give up considering how far into the season we are, and I’ve managed to stick it out this far… But the show is just such a disappointment. This week sees Jen at a wedding, and it really reinforces the whole victim complex that she constantly revels in. Everybody’s mean to her, nobody’s nice except for her… Course the fact that she gets raging drunk and then gets into a fight with a super villain… Well that’s not her fault. Titania hit her first right? Of course back in the B storyline, the assistant and the lawyer from last week are taking over her current case… A “mister immortal“ who can’t die… So he gets married to unsuspecting people, then once he’s gotten what he wants financially or if it just starts to go to Dale, he dies, which terminates the marriage contract, and then comes back to life. It’s one of these stories that you could almost watch them going down a checklist. Seriously, it’s custom made… A “men are bad“ story with room to display a conveniently diverse group of ex-wives… And one ex-husband. Everyone’s different ethnicity, and everyone has a different beef… And it’s just so intentionally politically correct that it knocks you right out of the story. If it had been a group of white haired ladies in their late 50s and 60s, it would actually ring more true and feed into the stereotype they’re going for. I’d also be more convinced if they looked similar. Same race, same general figure. And you can’t make them all black… Because that would just mean Mr. Immortal is a racist. But seriously, most guys have a type… Just look at Hugh Hefner.(sorry, but he’s on my mind because of the trashy podcast Holly and Bridget from the girls next-door are doing). That sort of guy who can get just about anybody he wants is going to go for the same type repeatedly. Doesn’t have to be blonde and busty like Hefner, but skinny, fat, African-American, Latino, men… This is not a natural pattern, and again, it’s smacks of a diversity checklist Rather than organic chemistry, and it’s so jarring that it yanks me right out of the story.

Not there’s really much story here to begin with. She hulk shows up at a wedding, gets to complain about how they don’t want her to be Seahawk at the wedding and take attention away from the bride… She feels like everybody’s being mean to her, Gets into a fight,and then goes home. Seriously, I had a bridesmaid like this. We kicked her out of the wedding party. It is true, that most of the people in this episode are portrayed as jerks and pretty bad folks… The problem is, so is Jen. I don’t like Jen… But I’m supposed to be following her and rooting for her. And that’s kind of the root problem with she hulk in general. She’s just written as such a jerk, and that’s not the Seahawk that I know. It’s a shame too, because I like she hulk. The CGI model looks just fine to me, and I can’t wait to see her team up with the fantastic four. But man, this version is just a drag.

It’s no wonder the show is hemorrhaging viewers, and even though I’m sticking with it for the sheer masochistic duty of it, it’s not one I could recommend. Ugh. Just give me more Stargirl instead.

 



Last couple weeks’s pulls

It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’ve fallen behind on stuff like comics and television, but I finally made it back out to the shop to pick up my pull list,  and a couple of things off the shelf. Nevertheless, my stack was significantly smaller than I would’ve expected.

I’d actually forgotten about the Human Target. It’s been a while since the last issue came out… And seeing this on the shelf made me wonder if I had just missed a few months and the series had wrapped up without me? No. It’s still solicits issue seven at the back, so apparently the title was just paused or late. I’ve got a bone to pick though, with calling this tales of the human target. This is not a human target book. This is a justice league international book. That’s a problem. Not just the branding, but dropping a JLI book into this run, because the thing about justice league international was the book was funny. It was at just the right time, right in the middle of the comics boom, and shortly before the implosion… At a perfect time for an experiment. A perfect time for a silly book that could play with superhero tropes and give us something a little more lighthearted. It worked in that context for a while, but as the market shrink, we would see the pendulum swing back towards adventure and playing it straight with Gran morrison’s JLA.

Human target is not a funny series. And when you drop a group like the JLI into a slightly nihilistic deconstruction, it’s just awful. Justice league international when written as a satire is goofy and silly and fun. But when written as a straight up deconstruction, it makes the heroes look sad and incompetent. It’s just not a fun book.

What’s even more frustrating, is that I was warned. I’ve been enjoying human target, with a quibble here or there, a few decisions I wasn’t big on, but for the most part Tom King has just slightly touched these characters bringing them into visit as side characters in the background.They told me Tom King was up to no good, and I should’ve listened. Because this book right here is no good. I don’t know if it was planned as a bunch of back up stories or a companion piece, maybe something to throw in the back of the tree paper back… Dropping it right here in the middle when you’re already late feels like a misstep. It stops everything dead cold, and quite frankly turns me off enough that I’m not so sure I’m interested in continuing the series. Maybe I’ll just take a peek when it’s over.

Ghost Rider on the other hand continues to be good. It’s an interesting supernatural adventure… And one that’s very much in ghost riders wheelhouse. Out in the wastes we called the devils backbone, there is an annual motorcycle race… At the end of the race, you meet the devil. When you meet him, you can ask a question or a boon or something… And it’s just a cool concept well done. We need more of that. It’s interesting, because you look at some of the faces here, Dr. doom, wolverine, a lot of familiar marvel characters and it makes sense to put them in this context, that’s sort of desperation. It’s almost reminiscent of the secret six story arc about the various villains chasing after what basically amounted to a get out of jail free card, only for hell. I like this. It’s one of the better runs of Ghost Rider I’ve ever seen, and I hope they keep the creep and the quality up.

Over at Iron Man I am again a little confused, because it felt like I missed an issue. No, this is actually going back in time a bit. Before the previous issue where Tony’s captured and fighting for his life, we’ve got a rewind to remind ourselves of his relationship with war machine. That’s gonna be important, because war machine someone coming after him, complete with that black stealth suit that we see painted onto the cover. It’s a set up and a pause and again, I have to note that these sort of stories really do killed him I meant about the title, but at least in this case, it’s done well and stays engaging. Unlike that pause in human target, this issue does a good job of setting up where we’re going next.

And then there’s Batgirls. This title is also in the middle of what feels like a bridge story. We’re kind of done with the last arc, and setting up the next one, which gives us a nice excuse to hang out with the Batgirls for shenanigans. And shenanigans it is. Look, one of things I’m really enjoying here is the character development. You know, I dipped in and out of Cassie‘s Batgirl series back in the day. I was particularly interested in the brief “will they or one day“ with Superboy, and shocked by the whole “getting fired“ storyline. There was good stuff here and there on the cruise ship, things that helped us get to know Cassie, but the entire point of her character is that she doesn’t have any character. She’s basically a blank slate, and it’s harder to develop that and draw it out when you’ve just got her paired up with a mentor like Barbara. Pairing her up with Stephanie, I feel like we see so much more character development here in these nine issues than I’ve seen in the past 10 years with the various appearances in and out of her own series.

There’s also some interesting character development going on over in Spider-Man. We’re starting to see some carryover from the past series, particularly in how they’re handling Norman Osborne. It’s interesting, I’ll definitely give you that. There’s so much here that I like, and yet I’m still not sure if it’s enough to balance out the frustration over what I don’t know. This is one of those titles where I find myself more often than not dipping in and out of i’m not consistent with my reading on this one, simply because without enough information, I just don’t feel committed. The JR JR art isn’t helping me any either, but I’ve looked past that before and the colorists really does help prop him up.

Nevertheless, the writer definately has a handle on Peter’s voice. Spidey is always at his best when the writer gets him and his humor, and I think my single favorite moment in this issue is when the Vulture complains about Spidey telling someone he’s a murderer –

“But aren’t you trying to murder me right now?”

Then there’s She Hulk. Not necessarily a comic, but certainly a comic property. The first episode was OK. I think OK is really the operative word, otherwise some things that I didn’t care for. In particular, don’t let your kids watch the after credit sequence. Dropping that F bomb was a little bit shocking and didn’t make any of us particularly happy. The series has of course gotten the majority of his coverage over Jennifer‘s rant about how she does being angry better than Bruce… I don’t need to cover that here, except to say it was a dumb thing to insert. It’s not compelling, if anything it’s a self-inflicted wound. I can blow it off though, because this Jennifer Walters… She’s not a good person. She’s narcissistic self involved and aspires to victimhood. “She Hulk? That name better not stick. I can’t even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk?“ Well no. You can’t. Because that’s exactly what you are… A derivative of the Hulk. That’s what the character always was! It’s stuff like this it just turns me right off and sours the stuff that actually manages to be funny. I think Mecharandom42 on Youtube put it best – “Stop lecturing me about how bad you have it.” I agree. You office and home are WAY nicer than anything I’ve ever had. It’s just…..*sigh*.

And the funny parts? You’ve already seen all of episode one in commercials basically. It’s not untill we get into part two that we really start to get in to the story, but even then, the pity party continues. Jen is hired by a firm developing a new superhuman division. However, they want her because she’s She-hulk. She walks through the halls, bitter and angry; “I’lll never know if they hired me for my skill or just because I’m She-Hulk!”. No, you do know. You ABSOLUTELY were hired because you’re She-Hulk. And it’s gotten you a massive corner office and high salary. Here I’m just hoping that this is a character arc and that she’s a better person on the other end of this, because right now- she LOOKS like She-Hulk, but the character is still utterly unrecognizable. The Jen Walters I know, doesn’t resent being She-Hulk. Big and green actually gives her confidence and makes her feel beautiful and empowered, not….whatever this is.

Disney/Marvel? In the words of Sam Wilson  – “Do better”.

 


All Finales!

Man, it’s all finales all day over here! Admittedly, I’m a little late. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but in the meantime I didn’t even know that Superman and Lois as well as the flash we’re both ending on the same week! When I referred to the penultimate episode in the last blog, turns out, I was actually accurate! There’s not a whole lot to say about Superman and Lois. They wrapped up the storyline, gave us a good climax, and then spent a good 15 minutes after all that tying up loose ends and resolving the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I also particularly enjoyed them slipping in what may be the most obscure Easter egg ever. If you know what that Miracle Monday banner actually refers to… You can absolutely be my friend.
The Flash on the other hand felt a little abrupt in it’s ending. The whole thing really sped along… No pun intended… In creating its own climax. I felt like I needed another two episodes or so, not surprising considering the season was only 20 episodes. The plague still affecting us and giving us shorter seasons I think. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular ending, with the ultimate fight between Flash and Thawn (Who’s your tailor? SATAN???) and you can genuinely see where this was designed to be a series finale. That may be one of the reasons it feels so rushed, because the renewal for this show came very late, and they were trying to tie it all off. Last minute changes had to be made so they could pull one more season out of this series, and I for one am actually glad. The Flash has actually really rebounded in the last season and a half, and I’m definitely up for one more ride. I swear, part of me thinks that the reason the movie keeps getting delayed is because the series just won’t die… Somewhere, somehow, Barry keeps messing with the timeline to make sure that the film doesn’t come out until the TV shows ready to end!

Ms Marvel may actually be the strongest of the Marvel shows right now. It’s almost as if Marvel discovered superhero action again… There’s still not enough of it mind you, but definitely more than what we got in WandaVision or Loki. Episode four gives us a pretty spectacular fight and chase, and they almost gave us a costume. Not quite, but almost get there. It’s back to a very talky story though once we hit episode five. It’s almost entirely made up of a flashback, going back to Kamala’s ancestors and more of the bracelets origins. It’s actually the exact sort of thing that would get cut if anybody was trying for anything resembling normal pacing. Indeed, I think the filler in these shows is a lot more onerous, because they’re such short series. When you got 22 episodes, yeah, give me a flashback episode. Let’s explore every bit of the history. When you’ve only got six episodes? Just put her in the mask and let me see her punching things. Still, the finale does that’s good. It’s a nice big chase, it’s a nice big fight, it almost feels divorced from a lot of the rest of the series. Come on was protecting the son of the ClanDestine leader… resolving in New Jersey the big adventure that we had in Pakistan. We also finally get the costume. Seriously, this has been one of the thanks it’s really annoyed and frustrated me in this series. Why do we wait till the very end, the last episode to get the costume? I was supposed WandaVision did a similar thing, but then again, it pissed me off there too!

Nevertheless, Ms Marvel seems to be the closest thing to getting it right that Marvel has done on television. It’s not there yet, and they still seem obsessed with a certain formula that isn’t quite working. I’m hoping somebody starts to fine-tune this a little bit more, because for the first time I really see the potential here. it doesn’t hurt that the actress playing Kamala is cute as a button and perfectly adorkable in the role. She gets the character and really pulls it off well. Indeed, I hope they jump straight into some more with her, because a big part of her charm is her youth. And she’s not gonna stay that age for very long… But much to my pleasant surprise, they may actually get me to watch the marvels just because of her! Imagine that.


So much TV! – week of 6/22/22

It’s gonna be a crowded week. I know my wife was just complaing that it’s all summer reruns for her, but for me, everything is firing on all cylinders, full speed ahead.


Superman and Lois is back, and there’s something to be said for a series like this… Where every single episode feels like the penultimate episode. As bizarro world attempts to merge with earth, Superman is down for the count and powerless. It’s up to all of our second string heroes, including Jordan as well as stealing his daughter to protect Smallville. In the meantime, The evil doppelgängers are back, looking for their counterparts and looking to take out Clark while he’s still vulnerable. All of this goes on, Lana finds herself coping not only was just learning the job of being the newly elected mayor, but also dealing with an extinction level superhero crisis and trying to pull the town together in the midst of it.
I gotta say, the thing that keeps coming back to me here, the thing that appeals to me the most about the show is that they genuinely get Superman. Clark feels helpless, worthless because he can’t get out there and save everybody, but Lois remind him that it’s not the powers that make him Superman… And right now the town needs Superman… Someone to rally around someone to give them hope. It’s just brilliant. It shows a true understanding of who Superman is, and what his appeal really is. Superman is an aspirational figure, more than just a hero.
Over in The Flash, I gotta say, I almost feel now like I’m reading comics again. This episode picks up where last week left off, with our new speedster, and her boyfriend who is definitely not the reverse flash. Definitely not. While flash attempts to train her, and iris tries to cope time jumping sickness, the avatars of the different forces show up again, this time very definitely the villains of the piece. I’m enjoying this, because we get a lot of interesting continuity, despite these being very self-contained episodes. We’re getting callbacks we’re getting characters from various stories mingling, it’s very much a comfortable old friend. It’s very much pulp fiction. It’s very much just like reading a comic book… And I think that’sThe Flash achieving its highest and best destiny.
 
Then there’s Miss Marvel… which is nothing like reading a comic book. Last week I mentioned that I was starting to see a pattern, and I think I really have cracked their formula. 85% world building, 15% action. Because that’s really what this is. It’s a very talky 35 minutes or so and 15 minutes of superhero shenanigans. The story is mostly concerned with Kamala getting ready for her brothers wedding… And the wedding itself. The Band playing the wedding by the way? “BROWN Jovi“. I absolutely screamed. I’m not sure if I’m finding it appalling or hilarious… Equal parts both probably.

They frontload the episode with an infodump, that the aunt who the bracelet belonged to, she and a bunch of her friends are actually aliens from another world, and the inspiration for the legend of the djinn. I’ll admit, I like this, it actually gets me back into the mood to watch Wishmaster again. It’s also an interesting take.

The rest of the episode is basically Kamala struggling to decide whether or not she’s going to help them and maybe escape with them or whatever… Kamala is actually the McGuffin of the story! Our alien friends however, aren’t waiting around. They come for her… right in the middle of the wedding reception and chaos ensues.

Do you know what bugs me here? We’re three episodes in and we have yet to see that costume that they were so quick to show off and all of the promotional materials. Honestly, I’m watching this because I want a superhero show, and Disney+, in typical fashion are dragging their feet! Yes, I’m probably gonna follow this all the way through, but it’s incredibly frustrating and there’s a reason why the show had the lowest debut numbers of any marvel show yet. In the words of falcon… Do better. Seriously Disney, do better.

So, does Obi-Wan stick the landing? It’s a really hard question to answer. It does and it doesn’t. I get all the resolution I was looking for and a lot of what I wanted… But it also comes with a lot of stuff that I just don’t care about. You see the problem with stretching this film script out into a six hour mini series, is all the stuff you have to fill-in, and I have said repeatedly, I am certain that Reva is an add-on designed strictly to stretch this thing out to six hours with a B storyline. The thing is, we still need to wrap up that be a storyline… And she takes up half the episode to do it. I feel a little bit like I did back in the day, watching the Phantom Menace. Specifically, watching the finale of the Phantom Menace. I did not care about watching little Anakin Skywalker fly a fighter craft, I didn’t care about the Gungan massacre, all I wanted to do was watch Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi fight Darth Maul. Every time they cut away from that fight and the jewel of the fates, I would just roll my eyes and count down the minutes until I can get back to the A storyline… The thing that mattered to me. I felt that a lot in this episode. Reva heads out to Tattooine to murder Luke… And she gets an attack of conscience, flashbacks of Anakin killing younglings… And just can’t. That’s it. That’s all it is. But it takes up at least 20 minutes of this episode, interspersed through what we really want to see… The showdown between Vader and Kenobi.

I almost wonder if they’ve been watching the Orville… Because this episode was full of ship porn, with tons of beauty shots of that huge star destroyer. We get all of the aesthetic from the Empire strikes back that we ever wanted, and if you’re a fan of the Star Wars style spaceships, this is absolutely gonna fill you with glee. Obi wan abandons the refugee ship, and the star destroyer predictively follows him. Vader comes down to the planet and they have at it.

If I have one real criticism of this showdown, it’s that the set just looks so cheap. I mean seriously, it’s planet hell from Star Trek… It’s not even Star Trek next generation, it’s Styrofoam rocks and light painted backgrounds from the original series with some fog thrown in for good measure. It’s just cheap. Even Uncle Owens farm where Reva is hunting Luke feels cheap. Still, a good story and good dialogue can rise you above that. This mostly manages to do that. Not entirely, but mostly. There is some good banter, and considering the way the tide turns and how spectacularly Vader loses the duel, you can almost justifying him saying that he was perhaps, “still a student” the last he met Obi-Wan… But now in a new Hope he considers himself the master. You may even argue, that is perhaps because he has in the interim between this and a new Hope, given up on his hunt for Obi-Wan. He’s finally squashed his feelings and become a true Jedi master… I’m sure there’s 1000 fan explanations for this… Though, it might’ve been nice if they’d give us a proper one.

There is one particular wonderful moment that I think Star Wars really needs to learn from and do more of. Vader is down, but he assures Obi-Wan that his failure with Anakin wasn’t entirely his fault. Vader says “you didn’t kill Anakin, I did.“ This is a brilliant piece of dialogue. Seriously. It’s the sort of ‘member berry that doesn’t just explain nostalgia, but enhances what it’s come before. I’ll give them full marks for this very smart moment. I will also extend a heartfelt F@#$ YOU to everyone who is sharing this photo 12 hours after the episode dropped. I didn’t get to watch it for two days, and all of you ruined what should’ve been a moment for me. This should’ve been a shocking surprise, but it was all over the Internet, and that does piss me off. I didn’t even get a day grace… And it’s one of the reasons I’m getting less and less patient with the Star Wars community.

By the way, this series just hates Luke doesn’t it? Not only is he just background… When we finally do get any of kid Luke, he’s just the McGuffin for the B storyline. Leia gets to be a fully developed character in the center of the action, and Luke is just… Well, throw away. It does seem like they are setting up for season two of the adventures of Obi-Wan and Leia by the way, and I’d really rather they didn’t. Oh I want a second season of Obi-Wan Kenobi… But I’d like to fast forward another five years and see him watching over Luke on tattooine and maybe getting him out of a jam or two as a young teenager. I don’t need any more Leia. Truth be told, the whole meeting and relationship between young Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi… That feels 100 times more canon breaking to me then this meet up between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.

So at the end of the day, did it stick the landing? I think it did. But I stand by my opinion that I really would’ve rather of seen this as a 2 to 3 hour film, rather than this mini series… And I needed to see it sooner. 10 years ago, this would’ve done gangbusters. I’d probably even own a copy. On the other hand, the real question is is it good enough for me to ever revisit it? Certainly I’m gonna pull the Prequel recap for my daughter once we finish return of the Jedi… But I don’t know that I really care to sit through six hours of this again. Two hours? Yeah that I might do… Especially with friends at a party. But no, I can’t see me ever coming back to this series… Although of all the Star Wars that’s come out since return of the Jedi… This might be the most likely candidate.
And then, there is The Orville.
The Orville has done an excellent job of really being Star Trek… Copying the aesthetic and the trajectory… And for the first time I wonder and worry if they’ve also swallowed the poison pill of modern Star Trek. The Orville hasn’t been without its social justice and political points… Although it’s generally been fairly evenhanded with them. But with this episode, featuring the election of the Krill… The bad guys, basically religious Klingons, I wonder if they’re getting a little heavy handed with their political commentary. We have an election that changed suddenly… mysteriously… almost overnight! And yet we have the leader who wins being very much A nationalist and an ideologue… All the things they said President Trump was. Of course one could also apply that to current President Biden, who governs every bit as an extremist as they all said Trump would be. The fact that there is suggestions of a stolen election… Or a challenge to it… Like I said. It’s heavy-handed and I’m feeling a little attacked. I actually chatted with us a little bit with one of my friends who does not share my political leanings. He’s not necessarily my opposite or even in the middle, but more of a cynic… and unlike other people who I hear frequently say “I hate all politicians“ and claim to be independent… He actually is. From his viewing, he saw a bit of skewering of both sides… And I’m content to leave it at that. I know my bias. Still, it’s clumsy and really not what I want to watch The Orville for. It’s a shame too, because the episode is gorgeous. The Krill homeworld is shocking how detailed and well realized it is. It’s just gorgeous and a monstrous bit of science-fiction design. Is everything you want from a future alien city.

With the upset of the election, a potential peace treaty with the galactic union is also shot down… Leaving our representatives on planet in peril. It’s a good time to mention that Bruce Boxleitner is guest starring in this episode… Except they’ve buried him under a ton of prosthetics! Still, that voice is unmistakable and as soon as you see the eyes paired with it… I know exactly who I’m looking at. He gets a good performance despite it all and of course, it’s another one of those ways where The Orville really does established sci-fi cred. The new Krill leader by the way, is Seth MacFarlane’s old lover… One who had infiltrated the ship in the previous season… And she’s got a secret! There’s a child… All of this makes the whole situation more complex and politically charged… And in a different political climate, I think I’d be a lot more into this intrigue. This is another one of those series where I’m watching and kind of wondering if they’re gonna stick the landing, or if they are going to stumble into the political Meyer like far too many other shows half. The Orville has until now, been a safe haven for a lot of us political refugees from science fiction… I’m still a fan, but when it comes time to revisit the season… This may be the episode I skip.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Week of 6-15-22

The Flash kicks things off right this week, jumping right in showing a race between the flash and another speedster dressed like a ninja. It’s a funny coincidence, considering I spent the weekend watching a bunch of ninja movies…

The black suited speedster in question is Dr Mina, a scientist who seems to have developed a machine that can grant a person artificial super speed. Or is it really artificial speed force? Barry’s taking it upon himself to help train her, but things go sideways when he meets her partner… Ebon Thawn, the Reverse Flash. This is the blonde hair blue eyed version of Thawn, and he’s lost his memory. It’s suspicious enough to send Barry running to check on Tom Kavanaugh‘s reverse flash, still stripped of his power, and cooling his heels in iron heights prison. Together they realize that what Mina has created is a machine that Thawn designed 200 years from now in his own quest for super speed… But it’s not creating artificial speed force. It’s tapping in to the negative speed force. Much like an atom can have a negative charge and a positive charge, Barry is the avatar of the speed force and carries the positive charge. What Mina has discovered is the negative charge of the speed force, and a lightning bolt from her hand can cancel out Barry’s powers.

It’s just a great solid superhero adventure. Mina actually stopped just short of kind of becoming a female reverse flash… And indeed, Barry even says “Central City can always use more heroes“. No it can’t! What it needs is more villains! and I’d love to see her go full Reverse Flash here. When you’re at the eighth season like this, it wouldn’t really be just a gender swap replacement of an existing character, but rather a variant that moves right along in the continuity, not taking away from the already established character. let her be a reverse flash for an episode or two, and maybe even climax it with three reverse flashes after Barry. Either way, you can tell that I’m digging on this episode, because of all the speculation…

Moreover we get not one, but three stingers at the end, it seems that there wasn’t really enough time to dedicate to the b storylines, so they’ve got a cliffhanger us at the end here with glimpses of Cecile and her powers going off the scale, A potential resurrection for killer frost, and new devious plans hatching with the reverse flash. It gets me very excited for what the back end of the season has to offer. You also can never go wrong with a cameo from Ray Palmer. Even if it is just Brandon Routh skypeing in, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Everything that Brandon Routh brought to the table with Clark Kent… All the charm and gawkiness without being… Well, stupid… (The way Christopher Reeve played him) it’s all dialed up to 11 when Routh plays the atom, and it just works so well.

But then we get to Ms Marvel. And see, I don’t understand Disney. They bought Marvel… A company mostly built on superhero adventure franchises. Colorful characters in colorful costumes punching people. Then they proceed to make these Disney+ shows with very few costumes, muted colors, and nearly no action, adventure or punching. I understood there wouldn’t be tons of action in the first episode because we’re basically getting an origin, but the second episode seemed even flatter. It’s Kamala’s got a crush, and somebody’s stealing shoes at the mosque. That’s basically what happens. There’s about 10 minutes of a superhero rescue towards the very end and quite the cliffhanger, but the 40 minutes or so that proceeded… It’s all just people talking. You know, I feel like I’ve said this before… Oh wait, I have. I said it for six weeks with Loki.

Part of me wonders if Marvel just hasn’t gotten The formula right… I mean, the Disney+ shows sure seem to be following a specific structure, but it’s not the right one. In a film, the first act is world building. You get 30 or 40 minutes of that before you move into the second act which is conflict, usually resulting in a big problem or falling out that has to be resolved shortly into the third act just before the climax. It’s a reliable structure, and when you deviate from that, you start feeling like the film is dragging. On a traditional 22 episode network television series, you probably get about 20%-25% of each episode divided world building, maybe a little bit more or less depending on the story, as well as character development all throughout, while never neglecting the action and adventure itself. For all of my talk about how the CW shows really do love their scenes of attractive people talking about their feelings in dimly lit hallways… They still understand that balance, And don’t deprive us of the important punching moments.

And yet every week I hear my friends gushing about “Marvel has done it again!“ And have the newest Disney Marvel show is the best thing ever! And I just don’t get it. I almost wonder if they’re reacting more to that shocking cliffhanger that they do seem to like leaving us with rather than the contents of the absolute self. That would make sense to me, but honestly, it’s not enough to run a series on that alone.

Fortunately, they haven’t forgotten about the action when it comes to making Obi-Wan. The imperial forces are bearing down on the underground railroad base, and it’s basically up to Obi-Wan to buy them time to evacuate… and get Princess Leia to safety.

We finally get some of Reva’s backstory… But it’s no exaggeration when I say literally everybody I knew, whether they were Star Wars fans or not, whether they like the show or not, EVERYONE ABSOLUTELY KNEW  she was going to end up being one of the kids in the Jedi temple and that somehow she would’ve survived the massacre from Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan suggests that the reason she’s doing all this is really to able to get close to Vader to kill him… Which is weird, because she’s been serving Vader for a decade or two now, but it’s only now that Obi-Wan’s  dreamy eyes are enough to convincing her to try and kill him? No, I still insist that this character feels very clumsily inserted into the story for purposes of padding out the length to get it to six hours, and to make sure that there’s some sort of diversity first. It’s not even that she’s awful, it’s just that she’s unnecessary. The imperial turncoat that’s been helping Obi-Wan and Leia escape…? The one that will occasionally don her old imperial officer uniform? You could have given Reva’s entire backstory to her and not missed a beat. She could have still headed up to confront Vader this episode and had a far more interesting death. And all the tracking and torture and villainous stuff Reva’s been doing? It’d all be WAY more interesting if that were Vader. I’ve said it before, but it bears reapeating. you have one of the greatest cinematic villians of all time at your disposal. Not just of sci-fi, not just of star wars….ONE OF THE GREATEST VILLIANS IN THE HISTORY OF ALL MOVIES….but you’d rather use Reva.

I can kind of see how Obi-Wan really did start off life as a film script. You can feel the pacing, especially now that we’re fully immersed into the third act, and this thing absolutely would’ve blown our socks off as a three hour film, rather than a six hour miniseries. In fact, I could go for a couple of two-hour Obi-Wan films with these kind of production values. Still, while this probably wasn’t the series best destiny, it’s still been the best of any of the Disney Star Wars that I’ve seen.

With no Superman and Lois this week, we’re rounding things out with the Orville. The thing is, I’ve never been a fan of imaginary stories. I don’t enjoy the stuff like Shore Leave, or the holodeck hijinx of Casino Royale or the Big Goodbye. Still, I’ve gotta admit, Seth MacFarlane is not gonna be able to fully realize his dream of doing a Star Trek series without at least one of these type of stories. He provides us with a sufficient McGuffin, and to his credit, the story actually gives us more of a twilight zone feel to them than a fantasy diversion. It’s an interesting aesthetic, but for me these still always feel like a waste of time.

McFarland also manages to tack on what Harlan Ellison used to refer to as “that dopey utopian bull$#@% that Gene Roddenberry loved” tm. McFarlane puts it in the mouth of the MacGuffin, a highly evolved creature, that’s at least 50,000 years beyond us… more really, since they learned how to manipulate and control their evolution. She suggests that humanity is on the right track, having left behind it’s gods and it’s myths and it’s nations, but when you become as involved as they are, you even move beyond any other identities… Explorer, captain, husband, even man or woman. Now, before people start pointing fingers and triumphantly exclaiming “See! Star Trek was always woke!“ Not only can I just kind of brush it off as one line of dialogue… (And being a student of history, I’ve noticed that every generation seems to think that they’ve evolved past a lot of those traditional concepts and identities… past ideas of God and nation and identity (and then history or reality reassert themselves and we find ourselves drawn back to those traditions). Sure I CAN address that myself, but I don’t actually have to, because in true Star Trek fashion, the show plunges forward to explore the statement further. McFarlane points out that while humans may not be as involved as our McGuffin, we’re old enough that we don’t run experiments on lower life forms the way the McGuffin has just done on us. It’s an interesting statement. It doesn’t necessarily contradict her, but it certainly gives you something to think about… and makes you wonder whether or not the McGuffin’s evolution is truly progressive and positive or not. The crew discusses it over dinner in the mess hall that night at the ship…

McFarland is pushing an atheist view here, that when you die there’s nothing, but that’s something to wrestle with. It’s an idea that we can’t truly wrap our heads around. Even the idea of it just being a formless black void after we die… We still have to be conscious in some way to perceive that… How do you perceive nonexistence? Bortus on the other hand suggests that death is noble. It’s a part of life and it has it hazards on virtue. McFarlane dismisses it as the traditional philosophical idea, but even in the dismissal, we get to listen to the point. Despite all of this, the first officer seems shocked that McFarlane would wish to live forever. He gives a marvelous justification though…

“I want to see what happens.”

I love this. I disagree with the primary tenant that McFarlane really wants to espouse, but he does it smartly – it’s classical liberalism which wants to debate the comcept, talk about it and chew it over and eventually come to a conclusion. It’s a difference between this and any of the modern Star Trek we see on Paramount plus which merely wishes to push it’s message, unquestioned. The Orville maybe stating its own opinion, but more importantly, they want to start the discussion. That’s why a single line can spark so much explanation from me here in this blog. That’s what Star Trek used to do.

Of course, you could justifiably say that I’m over thinking things here. But then again, hasn’t that always been the point of science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular?

See you next week.


   


Week of 6-8-22

Oh wow, Superman and Lois just went full on soap opera this week. I mean it. It’s nothing but drama… With a little bit of superheroics tacked on in the last 12 minutes or so. This may actually be the first bad episode they’ve had… And quite frankly, you can skip it. Anything that was important in this episode will almost certainly be recapped when the shower turns on June 22. I’ve got to admit though, for the series to have gone some 35 episodes or so and only so now hit a bad one, it’s actually pretty good. Supergirl jumped the shark almost immediately in her second season, and this is way better produced than that. It’s not enough to put me off, but yikes. They’re making up for turning the soap opera dial down a little bit the last couple episodes this week.

One thing that I am noticing though and it bears mentioning is the character of Kyle Cushing… Lana‘s husband. Lana and Kyle are currently separated because she discovered he cheated on her years ago while he was still drinking. In general, I don’t side with cheaters. I despise them.  And even when I can understand the events that led to it, I am always on the side of the person who got cheated on. That’s mostly true here as well, but what impresses me is the links to which Kyle is going to try and win Lana back, as well as being a good father and try and keep his family together. Early in that first season most of us pegged Kyle as the “grown-up frat boy“ or “craft beer douche bag“, “former high school  football hero”. It would’ve been very easy for them to just slip into the abusive husband or bad dad or dumb Republican kind of tropes. Instead, they’ve given him a great deal of nuance. The fact they’re showing him trying so hard and actually being a good father… The fact that they’re treating him as a character instead of a caricature – they absolutely deserve props for that.

One of the criticisms I’ve been hearing about Obi-Wan is how much it’s reminding people of the last Jedi… Specifically comparing sad Luke Skywalker in exile and saying Ewan McGregor is kind of sad Obi-Wan also in exile. I can see where they’re coming from on this, but at the same time I think things like the Last Jedi, and the constant bait and switch tactics we’ve seen ramp up over the last few years, and a lot of the diversity stunt casting rather than organic diversity… I think all of that has made us more sensitive to things we probably would’ve dismissed 10 years ago. I think we really wouldn’t be looking at this quite so critically if it had come out say, right after the Force Awakens. Imagine this and rogue one coming out within a year of each other… and then giving us the second sequel, making us wait three years instead of two. In any event, I think some of those criticisms have been answered here. Because in episode four, Obi Wan is driven, and singularly minded. He is on mission and finally giving us the Jedi action hero that we’ve been waiting to see. It also restores something that’s been missing from the D+ SW shows. For me, growing up, I could never figure out who was the actual hero of Star Wars. Was it the space pirate Han Solo or the cosmic mystic Luke? I think that this balance of those two aspects was really the key to Star Wars success. When the prequels came out, we were really missing this as they overfocused on the Jedi, and they never quite figured out how to strike that balance in the sequels. at first it looked like Finn would become the new streetwise space cowboy, but then Disney couldn’t figured out what to do with him so they shrunk his role and his space on the poster (because China doesn’t like Black people) and basically turned him into little more than a damsel in distress for Rose Tico – really a disservice to both characters.

With the release of the Mandalorian, we finally had our gritty shooty bang bang space western hero back, but now, the Jedi were all but absent. Oh sure, we’d get a guest appearance here or there, but for the most part, they weren’t a big part of that story. Obi-Wan feels like the other side of that coin. Like we’re getting a little bit of each depending on which series you watch. I’d love to see the balance achieved a little bit more, but it seems that we may actually be getting somewhere here. I sure hope so. There’s a lot of people who have lost their love for Star Wars because of how mishandled it’s been, and Obi-Wan should’ve been a good step towards getting them back… If it’s not too far gone already.

Ms. Marvel premiered this week as well, and I’m of two minds about it. They definitely have their target audience… Leaning heavily into the fangirl, convention fiend sort of element. Indeed, the entire episode really centers around Kamala Khan and her friend trying to figure out how they’re going to get to avengers con, in the heart of the city. I recognize a lot of myself in this, especially recognize a lot of my daughter in this. I’m surprised however, at how much I also relate to the parents… And they are of course, cast as the unreasonable bad guys. That I don’t like. But then again, we’re not the target audience. (However, people my age also weren’t the target audience for Stargirl….and I was completely all in on that show pretty much from the word go)

Ms. Marvel is one of those characters that is moderately popular, but that Marvel wants to make way more popular… Much like the way they hype Captain Marvel. And this first episode is very much a Captain Marvel hype machine. I’m not sure how successful that’s gonna be, but then again, I’m not seeing a ton of stuff here that bothers me or that I’d object to in the first place. It’s also very early in the story, and we haven’t gotten much happening yet except introducing our characters and learning the source of Ms. Marvel’s powers.

The Orville seem to be full of homage this week. Every time we turn around, I kind of felt like I was watching something lifted from a bit of one episode of next generation or another. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’re watching the Orville because it’s the best Star Trek out there right now… Which is saying something considering it’s not Star Trek.

The ships get permission to cross through Krill space… Those were the white and scaly bad guys from last year. Crossing through there and gives them access The areas of the galaxy previously unexplored… And everyone’s excited. Everyone but the Krill. When they learn that the Orville will be going through a dark expanse… Let’s just put it this way; they pray the last rights over them before they leave. They have legends about that area… Demons that possess people and hide unimaginable terrors.

That’s quite a set up. And it’s worth noting… They’re gonna pay this thing off in spades. 

Just past Krill space, they come across an area that just seems like a void. There are no stars. It’s hard for sensors to penetrate, but undaunted, they had in. Inside this large dark cloud they find a bizarre looking space station. They’re explorers, it’s time to explore. Shuttlecraft is dispatched and the whole thing has a very Star Trek the motion picture feel to it. The tiny ship as it penetrates the black clouds, and then enters the looming space station.  Watching the bizarre hatchways open in a sort of star/claw formation… And the essential alieness of it all.

Inside, I actually start to get extremely strong Borg vibes. The best of both worlds, where they’re exploring the ship and trying to figure out what different nodes and lights do in signify. what those notes do, is infect visitors. One of the away team is infected with a virus that completely rewrites his DNA and turns him into… Let’s just call it a monster. It’s very reminiscent of the episode of TNG where Barkley turns into a spider… Only there’s more of them, and as monsters go, they’re pretty horrifying. Perhaps too intense for broadcast television, but then again, the Orville no longer have to worry about that. Being on Hulu allows some fair that’s slightly more R-rated.

It’s interesting, because I’ve seen a lot of people complain about the sort of horror violence that we’ve seen in modern Star Trek… Myself included – though not quite so publicly – and yet here, it doesn’t bother me quite so much. Perhaps it’s because we’re dealing with monsters. There’s always been monsters on Star Trek… As opposed to watching people get their eyes gouged out by other people or watching a bunch of Falcons see a vision so horrible they blast themselves in the head with tasers… here, it’s just not so mean-spirited. Modern Star Trek is Saw, whereas the Orville is still the old-fashioned 80s slasher movie style or a 50s Wolfman flick. monsters, not cruelity. All of our characters get a chance to be heroic, and despite the other horror of the situation, the show and the crew still managed to retain an optimistic outlook. This is great stuff, and I am totally on board for the season. The weekly episodes… Honestly it’s the highlight of my week, much of the way Doctor Who used to be.

Another thing that’s striking me about the Orville is how distinct its ships look. The union ships them selves still have a lot of the Starfleet clean look to them… Definitely that same color scheme, But the design itself… Well, you’ll never mistake it for Star Trek. The same is true with a lot of the computer consoles, though everything else about the show really could be another TNG era spinoff. That of course is what has made this thing so strong. But I do sometimes find myself wishing for prettier ships… Then again, I was never a big fan of the look of the Enterprise D. The Orville is filmed exquisitely, almost to the point where I may actually like it better than the TNG flagship. Isn’t that strange?

The Flash is in a weird place this week. They  kind of need half an episode to use as a bridge episode, connecting us to the greater storyline, but they also insist on throwing a big storyline that’s unrelated… And quite honestly, not that compelling. The B storyline involves the temporary editor at the central city citizen… And it’s another example of this show really dying to be and ensemble show, the problem is it’s not. The main character of the show… Well quite frankly his name is in the title. And he’s off on a secret mission… so in  the mean time, the show is trying to push the supporting cast. Even worse, it’s the new supporting cast, not the characters that we really got attached to over the years. I understand, with this many episodes you do have to shuffle a little bit, but… they’re not pulling it off. We’ve had a really great run this season, but now, it’s almost like it’s catching up to them. Between this and the cast turnover, I know I keep vacillating back-and-forth, but it’s swung me back towards this should be

And man, it’s a good thing that television has been halfway decent lately, because there’s not a damn thing I want to read in comics right now.

Spider-Man number three is just depressing. It’s nice to get a recap of tombstone‘s origins, but man, that beat down Spidey takes… It bothers me kind of the way the beat down in Superman Returns bothers me. It’s just not what I want to see.

I tried to get the Poison Ivy issue this week a chance, but… Just ugh. I don’t recognize these characters anymore. And none of the politically charged pride books, or the new and improved justice league full of anything but what we’d actually like from justice league… Say Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? (And the real ones I mean, not the great value brand that DC is currently trying to pass off). I mean, seriously, if Grant Morrison could get this right while hopped up on whiskey and amphetamines, chain-smoking a dozen clove cigarettes at once, this can’t be that hard.

At least Archer and Armstrong is still interesting enough. It’s really more of an alternative comic… And I like the direction they’re going this time around. And the current stories are trying to find a way to restore Armstrong’s immortality, and it’s been a lot of fun. Exactly the sort of weird alternative Loopy fun that this title has never gotten enough credit for.

Hopefully we get better next week.

 

 

 


Week of 6-1-2022

One of the things that always bothers me about serialized shows over episodic are these kind of in-between shows like we had on Superman and Lois this week. It’s not really filler… Well, the subplot about Lana‘s daughter and her music might be, but for the most part, these are all story threads that need to get into the series but can’t necessarily be wrapped up in a solo adventure. There’s not so much a story going on this week as there is connective tissue being developed.

In the aftermath of Superman finally telling Lana his secret, we really spent a lot of the episode with her trying to deal with that, and how that affects her relationship with the Kents. While I think the revealing your secret identity trope is way over done (Let’s face it, live action Batman whips that mask off anytime potential booty is in the vicinity) what I really enjoy about this episode is it finally gives us some real Lois and Lana drama. It’s something that I didn’t realize I was missing so much. Lana and Lois were always a little uneasy around each other, indeed sometimes downright hostile towards each other in the comics… We haven’t really seen a whole lot of that in this story. Lana reveals to Lois that she’s not nearly as angry at Clark and she is at Lois. Since they moved to Smallville they really connected. They had a real friendship… She was the one that Lana would call if she needed something or just needed to talk. That’s the betrayal she’s feeling. It is completely irrational and unreasonable, because as Lois explains, it wasn’t her secret to tell. In fact, I find myself a little disappointed in Lois here because she ends up coming back to say she’s sorry and then laying out everything else… Jordan, the history, everything about Superman. That’s not the Lois Lane as I know. Lois is stronger than that, even in the face of this sort of friendship. We get such a good description though, of her life and metropolis. Too busy with work, and then with being a mother… She never had time for real friends. It’s an interesting perspective and one that rings true. It’s a sort of character development that really makes Superman and Lois such an interesting series, and some of the best Superman I’ve seen in my lifetime. We get some shenanigans with the kids as well, and again I can’t overemphasize… I should hate these teenagers. These characters have so much potential to just be annoying frustrating and a distraction from the main plot, but I’m finding myself invested in everybody. It’s good stuff, and we’re starting to see the beginnings of the armor for Steele’s daughter. We knew it was coming, and I’m actually kind of excited to see it show up.
 
Speaking of shows that are in the middle of a serialized story… Obi-Wan is really kind of stuck in the middle here with episode three. It’s a sort of thing that kind of makes me wish this is just been a film instead. There’s not enough for a six hour miniseries, but plenty for two. Still, we’ve got some action as Obi-Wan spirits lay out a way through a sort of Jedi underground railroad. It’s interesting enough, but then we really get some chills with the arrival of Darth Vader. We get the whole assembly and armor sequence, and just the sheer intimidation of him wandering the streets. Indeed, I think this is a lot of what the fandom really long for. It’s the kind of thing we wanted to see in between the films and certainly during the wilderness years. It’s one of the reasons why the Marvel comics are still as beloved as they are. To see this familiar shapes… Stormtroopers and probe droids and Vader flanked by all of it, it’s a beautiful thing. Seeing him fight with Obi-Wan… I know the back of my mind is screaming they’re breaking canon, but it really is a sort of thing you want to see. The fact that they’ve got Ewan McGregor at the perfect age for this in the storyline as well is a real blessing. Especially since as I mentioned last time, he’s honestly become more Obi-Wan than Alec Guinness. It does_however one of my problems with the prequel’s. I’ve never been able to reconcile Hayden Christensen Anakin Skywalker or Jake lights for that matter, as Darth Vader. The Vader we see in episode three is evil. He’s cruel and impatient. He’s everything that made him so terrible in the original trilogy… But he doesn’t feel like Anakin in the prequel‘s. He doesn’t move the same way our talk the same way… He is far more prone to snap and murder somebody in the blink of an eye. There is so much of the refined brutality in him that it just never feels like Anakin . But I’ll tell you what it does feel like… This absolutely feels like Darth Vader to me.

That makes the inclusion of inquisitive Reva so much more baffling. She’s fine for what she is, but if you were going to include a villain like this… I mean why? Why have A second stringer like this when you actually have access to Darth Vader as a villain? Putting him in there makes anyone else pale in comparison and quite frankly I think I’d enjoy this more if all of her lines and duties were basically just handed straight to Vader. Vader wasn’t above doing foot work and getting his hands dirty… He wasn’t the grand pubah of the Empire (Although he was pretty close). The fact that he was a hands-on sort of leader only makes him more terrifying and he’s the real deal and I think fans want to see in the series. It only lends further credence to my belief that the Reva character and most of her art was grafted onto the series for runtime purposes… And honestly, there’s not a whole lot of use for it. I’m far more interested in seeing character development with Obi-Wan than I am with her and her strangely modern American hair (seriously, it’d be like if someone had given Lando an Afro and Empire strikes back it would’ve just stuck out like a sore thumb and so does this!). I’m also disappointed in Lucasfilm in characterizing any criticisms of the show or of the character in particular as racism. It’s a really tired old trope, and attacking the fans makes me less than enthusiastic about following this show… Not more.
Nevertheless, we’ll see what happens next week.
 
The Orville has returned! Holy crap, I didn’t realize just how much I was missing this show. It’s kind of like back when I first watched the Orville. It reminded me just how much I missed having good Star Trek like Next Generation or Deep Space Nine. That’s kind of the thing… It took dreck like Discovery and Picard to make me realize how much I missed the days of Berman and Braga. And it took a couple of recommendations between my best friend and Gary over at nerd Roddick to really get me on board… But now that I am, I’m so happy the series is back. I’ve missed it since it went on that extended hiatus after the second season. Especially considering we left so much kind of unresolved. Season three comes back with a vengeance… Literally. The story kind of involves the way the crew is relating to Isaac, the robotic crewman… Part of the race of robots I just tried to destroy humanity. Basically, Orville borg. The thing is, they handle it extremely well. We get themes of unease and bigotry and xenophobia but we explore all sides of it, and quite frankly, the people who are espousing The various views… Pro and con, they’re all part of the heroic cast. This way we get to really explore the ideas, rather than what modern Star Trek does… Just telling you what you’re supposed to believe… This one’s more interested in playing with the concepts and letting you find your own truth. Even if it’s hopefully theirs… That’s how real Star Trek always do politics, and it’s refreshing to see it again. Looking at things from all sides.

The other thing this gets right, something that is extremely Star Trek, is the starship porn. Let me tell you something, this first episode of the third season is total starship porn. The Orville is in space dock for refit, and while we only kind of heard about the refit of the Enterprise NCC-1701, we really see a lot more of it here. A lot of space walks, a lot of fly-bys, lots of shots of the spacfoode dock itself. If you’re a fan of beautiful starships, this is absolutely for you. Really lovely looking ships is something that’s absolutely been missing from Star Trek ever since the new TV series begun. While I wasn’t a fan of the 2009 Enterprise, there were some real design chops there. Everything in Discovery and Picard is just flat and ugly… The Orville understands working the beauty of a starship and it all makes it so much more fun. I am so glad to have the Orville back, I am so glad to have some real Star Trek back to watch While Prodigy catches up and gets ready to launch the back half of it season.
 
By the way, for anyone wondering, yes, I’m still keeping up on the foods that made us and it’s sister show Adam eats the 80s. The 80s show isn’t nearly as much fun as I had hoped and unfortunately, the food that made America… I don’t know if it’s running out of steam or not. But I will say this, little Debbie versus Entenmann’s… That’s some weird subject matter!
 

Not much to speak of and comics last week so I may as well tag it on here. I did pick up Deadpool bad blood… This is sort of Rob Leifield‘s triumphant return to the character he created. Thing is, the Deadpool that Rob Leifield created is not really the Deadpool we know today. There’s significant differences in tone and in general zaniness and all that’s fine. But life is treating him the way he always did. That’s his prerogative, he’s the creator. But what the sense of being, is very much a Rob Liefeld book for Rob Liefeld fans. And boy, is it ever Liefeld. I mean, Liefeld on steroids. It’s a little jarring, almost enough to make me rethink my constant emphatic defense of the man’s style.

Still, I expect that Liefeld fans will really dig this, but I got admit, it’s just not for me. Issue one didn’t do a whole lot for me, and I’m jumping off this title with issue two.

Ghost Rider on the other hand, continues to blow my mind. I’ve dipped my toe in Ghost Rider here and there over the years. He’s a staple of the Marvel universe, but he’s usually treated mostly as a superhero. Perhaps supernatural superhero adventures, or Scooby Doo – kids Halloween party levels of spook. But it’s always comic book spooky. It’s always super hero affair, it’s always comics code levels of terror.

That’s not what we’re getting from this Ghost Rider series.

This Ghost Rider book is straight up horror. Not dark fantasy, not horror edged or supernatural heroics, this thing feels like straight up horror. Not even comic book horror, like Man Thing or Tomb of Dracula… Reading this book gives me very similar vibes that I get from old Garth Ennis Hellblazer back in the day. We’re constantly seeing unspeakable monstrosities slither into existance.  The writer knows he can’t pull off a jump scare but he can definitely shock you. He can create imagery that just lingers and disturbs and that’s exactly what he does. There’s a real brilliance to it and I feel like this is what Ghost Rider always should’ve been… What it always wanted to be. This one’s a book you absolutely need to go out and pick up.

 
 

 


Week of 2-25-22

Episodes like last week are really the reason I keep defending the Flash even after a lot of my friends have dropped off. We open with the flash running through Central city stopping Miner Street level crime. A robbery here, maybe push your grandmother out of the way of a truck… All before running home for game night. This he is actually the kind of stuff I’d like to see more of. Especially with such an established casting concept.

The rest of the story is a really straightforward standard adventure with a villain looking for eternal life, and draining the energy from the people of the city. We get to watch the flash grow old as he battles this guy, and it’s just a fun story.

While this episode doesn’t really connect to anything else in the series, it’s very much standalone but still doing the sort of farewell Thing as well, bringing back familiar faces. This time around it’s Captain Singh from the earlier episodes. He stepped down two seasons ago or so, it was never a big character… Always more of a background one. That’s what makes it so weird to bring him back like this. He’s got a substantial role in the story, helping Joe settle into retirement, and it’s weird because he probably gets more screen time in this one episode than in any given season.

Still, the standalone for me is good. And it doesn’t feel like filler. It doesn’t give me the same exasperation in the last couple of episodes have. It’s just a reminder of why I genuinely do enjoy the show.

With no Superman this week, I decided to take the plunge and check out Obi Wan

The first episode actually starts off with about a 5 to 7 minute recap of the prequel series. Not only is that smart, it’s actually better than watching those three movies in full. We get all the salient data, we get the best of the performances, and you basically get to know everything we need to know going into this.

It’s interesting, normally I’d roll my eyes at the idea of yet another prequel series, but this is exploring that’s strange imperial. Between revenge of the Sith and a new Hope. It’s not something that’s ever been explored before, and quite frankly, Ewan McGregor is one of the absolute best things about the prequel series.

I am intrigued by the show. McGregor is actually a surprisingly proficient action hero, and I almost wonder if we really needed this story earlier. A lot of the bloom is off the rose is off Star Wars, but fans have been clamoring for this year well over a decade. Ewan McGregor has basically made the role his – more than Alec McGuniess ever did, and it’s nice to see him back in the saddle.

The portrayal of a child Leia is also interesting. I actually see it. they’ve made her up in a way that REALLY evokes Carrie Fisher, and I can totally see this little girl growing up to be her in another ten years. Likewise, the whole Star Wars world feels right. In fact, the only thing that feels out of place is the Inquisitor Reva. That VERY 2022 hairstyle takes me right out and it feels like there’s more attention paid to her story than to Obi-wans’s….of course they DO have six episodes to fill here, and adding more subplot with her may be one of  the ways they stretched out that original two hour film idea into a six hour mini-series.

That’s at the core of any problems they are going to have here. I could see the filler stretching out Picard, Wandavision and Loki. Obi Wan is starting out strong, and very watchable – maybe the best of the modern Disney Star Wars. But filler may well kill it. I hope not. This one has enough of my intrest to keep me around for another four weeks.


Catching up with my CW shows

 You know, I really haven’t talked much about television lately. I get behind, I catch up, and then I get behind again. But at this point it also feels like it would be kind of redundant. “Superman and Lois is the best thing ever”, “I know Flash is getting up there in years, but it’s still pretty good“.

Really it’s pretty much that set of statements all over again. I will say, it’s a little frustrating that evil bizarro Jonathan Kent has one of the best costumes on Superman and Lois. The whole bizarro world saga they’re doing here has been shockingly good. The problem is, this is the CW and I just keep waiting for them to mess it up…

Flash on the other hand, we’ve had two episodes in a row that feel like they’re just filler. I suppose you can get away with that with The Flash, there’s still managing to crank these things out every week whereas Superman and Lois is coming out twice a month and that maddeningly slow pace just ups the anxiety all the more. 
 
Times are quite uncertain at The CW these days, and probably rightfully so. Stuff like Supergirl and Batwoman should’ve been canceled ages ago, and quite frankly I think the only thing that kept Legends of Tomorrow going as long as it did was sheer  momentum. I still maintain that I wouldn’t mind seeing a Showcase show where we get a smattering of arrowverse characters, somebody shows up each week and you never quite know who you’re going to get. An ensemble anthology like that maybe the CW’s last best hope, now that even a lot of their second stringers are gone.

The one that disappoints me the most is finding out that Stargirl was cancelled. I know I’ve been saying it for months, but I need to go back and just watch the rest of that show. We got no more coming so maybe I’ll add that to TV night with Maddie. We made it about halfway through their second season, and then things just got too busy. I kind of regret that now.

Oh well, hopefully we’ll be back soon with some new comics. There’s been so little I’ve actually cared to read lately, but worlds finest number three did pop up on my radar last week I just haven’t gotten to it yet! See you then.
 
 

 


Last Week of March 22

Nothing much worth reading last week other than ghost rider. I’m really digging the spooky vibe they’re really trying to confuse here… It’s street horror spooky. Gothic spooky, not comic book spooky. Two issues in and I’m digging it.

On the TV front, I gotta say, the flash went full CW this week. Literally the bad guy was defeated by the power of “attractive people, standing in hallways talking about their feelings“. I don’t know. I heard we just got renewed for a full ninth season, except I also heard Grant Gustin isn’t appearing in every episode. Look, this is not an ensemble show. You’ve always had a good string a supporting characters, but this is a show driven by the title character… You know, “THE FLASH”???? If we were going to push it more ensemble, well, this point. That ship has sailed. If this wants to shift into a show with more of a rotating cast of characters, it may be time to scrap the flash, in favor of something like “showcase“ or “ The brave and the bold“. Still, the flash generally makes me happy as long as I keep my thumb on the fast forward button.

Superman and Lois has. But here’s the thing, I like these characters. I care about them, I’m invested in them… So I’m not really upset by it being that way. It’s strong enough to survive an entire episode without Superman. These characters that should actually really kind of annoy me… Especially these two teenage boys… No. They’ve consistently kept me engaged and it genuinely surprises me. Even more surprising is the fact that they’ve got me rooting for Sam Lane. Seriously? General Lane was always a jerk in the comics, and they translated that pretty well in the first season. Yet, I’m kind of digging him… Watching him try and do better. Watching him train Jordan into the superhero that he’s obviously becoming. Indeed, the show hasn’t just gone. Brother, it’s gone full Smallville. Watching Jordan this last few episodes it’s very much a similar feeling to watching Clark find his wedding as his power started to develop in the show. It’s interesting, I watch Lois‘s reaction to Jordan wanting to go out and help people, and I genuinely wonder… Is this way Martha would’ve acted? In a lot of ways, I feel like Jonathan and Martha had an easier time… Clark was a fundamentally good kid who wanted to do right by his parents. Jonathan and Jordan aren’t the same way, and yet they also kind of are. It all makes for really interesting watching… Really interesting comparison and contrast, but absolutely feels like it is the successor to Smallville. And that’s not a bad thing. Smallville was some of the best Superman of its era… Superman and Lois is definitely the best around in our modern period.

I also finally took the time to sit down and watch the Netflix Texas chainsaw massacre. But I think I’ll save that for a little bit later.


Week of 3-7-22

You know, as I looked at my stack of comics last week, I feel a little bad that there’s only one DC title. Then again, marvels kind of dominating things right now with their Devils Reign event and all of its tie-ins. I suppose I make up for the lack of DC comics by focusing on their television instead. I did manage to catch up with Superman and Lois, and my opinion hasn’t really changed. It feels like the last three or four episodes have really just been about cramming as many confusing and heartbreaking emotions in to the viewer as possible and it’s beginning to wear on me a bit. It doesn’t help that they are also indulging in the same, played out “the government is evil” trope that Star Trek Picard is beating into the ground as well… But at least Superman and Lois is watchable The Flash is back as well, after a reasonably strong start with the Armageddon miniseries. I know, technically that’s supposed to be a arrow versus crossover, but considering that we’re crossing over with two canceled shows, and one that nobody’s watching… It’s really just a flash show. In fact, this is turning into the best way to showcase some of these characters. Since justice league tied up the rights to most of the main line DC heroes after the flash, The CW is had to pursue increasingly obscure characters… And it stopped working a while ago. Bringing them in as guest heroes though, that’s actually not a bad idea at all, it has been a lot of fun. It’s helped The Flash kind of reinvigorate the series, after a very slow start to the last season (but also very strong finish)

There’s a bit of a caveat when I say The Flash is back… Because The Flash doesn’t actually appear in this episode. This one is strictly an excess and impulse story, where they’ve done something that messed up the timeline, and they have to go back and fix it… All the way back to right after the explosion at Star Labs. Back to a time before The Flash existed. It’s a good and fun little romp, but this feels suspiciously like a back door pilot to show the chemistry between excess and impulse as they engage in some speedster highjinks.

Actually, that sort of makes sense considering The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace revealed to Comicbook.com that he’s currently writing the Season 8 finale as if it also needs to be a proper sendoff for the series. If that’s true, then I’ll tell you this much, I expect a spectacular season this year, with the show trying to go out on top.

Back to comics, I’m still on board the Batgirls train. Really, the thing that we’re reading this for is a relationship between Steph and Cass. That’s a good thing too, because the current story arc feels like it’s stretching out a little bit too long. This issue feels a lot like filler, with half of the book literally taking place with them going out cruising and checking out a used bookstore. We’ve got Stephanie explaining to Cassandra terms like BFF or Bestie, and it’s actually a little weird. I get what they’re going for and how they’re building this friendship, but we have Cass portrayed is shockingly naïve in a lot of ways, despite being In Barbara Gordon’s care for a long time (an entire series even! Remeber that 2000-2006 run kicked off by Kelley Puckett and Scott Peterson?). Then there’s the constant affirmations that Cass makes to Steph. We get it again in this book… In fact it seems like it’s I requirement that at least once an issue somebody remind Stephanie how amazing she is. Again, it’s weird. Steph is already a complex character. She is broken away from her super villain father, created a superhero identity in the Spoiler, been trained in large part by Robin, falling in love, falling out of love, gotten pregnant, become Robin, died… No, wait, faked her death… Came back, then has been Batgirl. All of this, and she still needs daily girl power affirmation from her best friend?

Like I said. Weird.

It makes me wonder how much of both of their canon has been dropped in the face of the constant DC reboots… New 52 to  rebirth to whatever this currently is. It’s a shame actually, because these desperate attempts to shoehorn girl power and strong female characterization into these characters feels forced, mostly because they already WERE strong female characters… and this kind of stuff actually deconstruction chips away at that. It’s a step backwards, not forwards. Whatever, I’m still going to enjoy Steph and Cass bantering back-and-forth.

Devils Reign continues to be good stuff, and actually so does the Superior Four. It’s one of those tiles that probably didn’t even need to be tied into Devils Reign, it’s got enough potential on its own in a what if sort of way. But the real find this month, is the Moon Knight tie-in to Devils Reign.

As I mentioned a week or two ago, I do enjoy prison stories. Devil in cell Block D was a brilliant handling of Daredevil, and the Punisher really works in those sort of context as well. Just look at the first chapter of Circle of Blood, or the one shot The Cell. This feels a bit like an amalgam of both. We have the skill and cunning of Daredevil, mixed in with the murderous brutality of the Punisher.

It’s a straightforward story. Moon Knight gets himself caught and thrown in jail to get at a particular con in there… making his way to him and his bloody revenge through a trail of broken bones and beaten down prisoners. It’s a solid one-shot adventure for people who like this sort of thing. I’m not a huge Moon Knight guy, so it’s hard for me to say what the appeal would be to his fans, but I really enjoyed it despite not being a fan.

I admit, the more I am trying to ease back into reading modern comics, I’m discovering… I’m getting very tired of the Multiverse. Look, this was cool back in the 70s and 80s when DC really kicked it off. It allowed us to have the golden age superheroes on one world and the modern age ones on another… We could have back up stories about golden age Batman and the huntress, and All-Star squadron running… Completely doing their own thing in continuity. At the same time, we could have Superman and Wonder Woman and the Justice League over on another rack, never touched by the events that were happening on earth 2… Except in the very rare crossover every few years, when that you were us would get together and battle a threat like the Crime Syndicate on earth 3. Even Marvel approached it this way around the turn of the century when they were really pushing their ultimate line. It was confirmed that the ultimate comics weren’t just their own continuity, but their own universe when the fantastic four accidentally crossed over into the Marvel zombies universe. Then somebody had the bright idea that the MCU would be just another stop in the Multiverse… And DC then picked up this ball and really ran with it on The CW. The Flash was the first showed a really tie all the various sundry DC properties together, even with that first, brief glimpse of John Wesley Shipps Flash from the 90s projected in the vortex as Grant Gustin hopped worlds.

But now it’s everywhere. I mean everywhere. Hopping between parallel dimensions and worlds is done with the same ease and regularity of jumping in your car and driving one town over to see a movie. What used to be the domain of imaginary stories and rare crossovers has become so common place, that it genuinely waters a lot of the source material down. I peaked at the Gwen-Verse issue this week, and it really just underscores my point and how we are and I am of this stuff. There’s some cute stuff, Gwen is Thor and stuff… But it really just belongs in a sidelined imaginary story, not in main continuity, where everything is now canon. I think we’ve gone a little too far, and it’s become an excuse for lazy writing. Personally, I’d really like to get back to more grounded tales. Heroes that are fairly unique in their one universe and continuity… A minimum of derivatives and a special focus on a non-powered supporting cast. Maybe that’s just the street-level story fan in me, but I really do think that’s what we really need to ground comics and get them back on track. I’d definitely be buying more books if that were the case!

Got a Harper show coming up this weekend with lots of longboxes to dig through. Maybe I’ll start looking for just that sort of thing Sunday!

 


Week of 2-22-22

Could whoever is running the control board over at Superman and Lois turn down the “soap opera“ dial a few notches please?

Seriously, that’s most of what I observed this week. A sort of soap opera filler episode. The daughter found out about the affair Lana‘s husband had. This of course, ruins her quinceanera. Elsewhere, there’s drama between Superman and the General who thinks he’s in cahoots with Bizzaro, that’s why all but one of his team is dead… And Lois‘s partner meet up with the cult leader who slips her Mickey. Honestly, it’s just so soap opera it hurts. I know we’re gonna get past this, but I remember these kind of long stretches in The Flash as well… where it would kind of forget that it’s a superhero show and go full CW.

On the other hand, I don’t wanna complain too much. It’s still the best version of Superman I’ve gotten in ages, and man if they haven’t made Bizarro just terrifying. Like I mentioned last time, that’s no mean trick. We too often see Bizarro as a goof, a clown, and this one is anything but. This one is absolutely a stone cold killer with a chilling warning that war is coming.

Nothing much else on television, although I did check out a couple of comics this week. Nothing great to speak up there as well, it must be filler week for DC. Human target was really one of those stock filler issues as well, with a meeting between chance and Martian Manhunter that primarily occurs entirely in chances head. It does very little to develop the characters and nothing to forward the plot. Same thing with Spider-Man… Although in fairness, Peter is back in costume and getting back in action here, teaming up with Ben Riley. It’s more a penultimate story than it is a real driving force. That is to say, nothing to write home about. I’d really like this arc to be over soon please? Maybe get back to a status quo Spidey for a bit huh?

The one thing that I did find interesting this week was Devils Reign : Villains for Hire. The Kingpin, now mayor of New York, is doing the whole thunderbolt thing. Incomes USAgent basically offering his services to try and keep these villains under control. I’ve always enjoyed USAgent, and this is a prime example of why. He doesn’t have the virtue or moral fiber of captain America, but he definitely has the drive and the earnestness. When it comes to Truth, Justice and the American Way (hey, that’s catchy!), he’s a true believer. It’s a nice little side step. It can’t really stand on its own, but as a sort of sidequel, it’s one of the better ones.

 


What we watched on 2-2-22!

Superman and Lois is getting a little heavy. The mayoral race is turning into dirty politics, and they’re gonna start going after Lana’s daughter, her emotional problems and suicide attempt, but even worse… It looks like her husband has a secret from his drinking days. It’s all about to get very ugly.

Equally ugly is the cult leader who is coming for Lois, and who brainwashed her younger sister Lucy. I don’t like this version of Lucy, neurotic and spiteful instead of happy-go-lucky and flighty. It’s all some heavy stuff, watching these characters that we like being ground down a bit. I’m sure it’s going to end well in the end, but it’s not quite as much fun as I would normally like. John Henry’s down as well, having taken a beating from Bizarro. This is a really interesting thing. They are doing really good stuff with Bizarro. We tend to forget just how dangerous he really is because we’re so used to him being the clown. But he’s every bit as terrifying as any kind of Superman gone wrong. I’m looking at the title of next weeks episode and I suspect we’re about to see Steel’s daughter in her own suit. I was fairly confident that was gonna happen once they brought her in, and now I’m certain of it. Things like this, and Jordan experimenting with his superpowers, asking his grandfather to train him in secret, it’s all really compelling character development and I’m enjoying a lot of that kind of stuff. 

Ultimately, this feels very much like a transition episode. Not necessarily filler, it’s full of stuff that we need to know going forward, but it doesn’t stand on its own as a singular adventure. We’re very much into a proper territory right now, but, it’s interesting to see where they’re going with this, and I’m eager to see how it resolves.
 
By the way, is anybody watching The book of Boba Fett? I haven’t tuned in yet… Honestly, it’s one of those I’ll-get-to-it-when-I-get-to-it deals for me, but this week really wasn’t was it? This week was at least 60% an episode of the Mandalorian. Because of that, I fired up Disney+ to watch and, wow. This is everything I could’ve hoped for. There was talk when Mandalorian season two ended that we’d get a Christmas special just to touch base with Mando and Baby Yoda. That Christmas special never materialized, and I suspect that script got rolled into this episode. That’s fine. This is actually the Star Wars that I want. We get to see Luke training Baby Yoda, and some of the Jedi philosophy comes into play as well… Culminating in a pretty heart wrenching cliffhanger. This is good stuff, and a big part of me wonders if they’re just gonna leave us hanging. I bet they are until Mando season three.
 
Prodigy finished up it’s two parter nicely last week as well. Our young crew of rogues recaptured the Protostar and foiled the plans of the Diviner….or did they? Evil Robot Dude tm is terrifying as ever and while they were trying to find a way to take back thier ship, Dal and company managed to free the minors/slaves and give them the gift of communication by some jiggery pokery with the universal translator in Dal’s comm badge. Also we get a punch the air moment with that darling little catian from the first episode as she wreaks an adorably savage vengeance on the security drones.
 
Most importantly, everyone gets a moment here. This cast just works together really well and no one gets overshadowed. It’s good stuff.
 
I had thought this was it for this season, but according to TrekCulture, we’ve got more coming later this year. We ended on a perfect cliffhanger, back in the alpha quadrant with the REAL Admiral Janeway detecting the warp signature of the protostar and setting off to find it – hopefully to rescue her former first officer Chakotay. You know, one of the amazing things about Prodigy is how much it actually makes me CARE about the characters from Voyager (not that I hated the show or anything, but it didn’t keep me engaged past the third season and was around the time in the 90’s that I dropped off). I’m excited for it’s return later this year!

You know what else I’m excited for? March 3rd, and the return of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe!
 
Stay Tuned.
 
 
 

 


Catching up! Prodigy, Superman and The Flash

Do you know, I was just complaining last week about this weird aversion modern Trek has to uniforms. In Picard we don’t get them much at all, and even in Discovery they seem to be out of uniform as often as they’re in. And then there’s the strange approach that Secret Hideout (the company that currently produces Star Trek for Paramount) has taken… Different uniforms for different series. Not necessarily for different ships – the Enterprise in Discovery has red yellow and blue uniforms where is Discovery was still wearing thier plain blue… And so was Starfleet command. But then Lower Decks has their unique uniforms that don’t match what we see on the Titan or in flashbacks. It’s all strange and quite frankly, offputting to me. Still, I’ve been wondering what exactly the uniforms would look like in Prodigy. When all the characters showed up and pretty much just wore street clothes through the entire thing, I was a little disappointed. At least Jayneway looked familiar. But I do recall making that comment about wanting to see more uniforms.

I should’ve kept my mouth shut.

I’m not sure how Secret Hideout’s Star Trek has sunk from Discovery, which in its first season, had some of the best looking uniforms I’ve ever seen (I really do like those blue and gold costumes, with different trim denoting rank just as much as the pips on the arrowhead insignia). I even like how they translated that into classic series uniforms for the Enterprise crew. But since then, everything is really gone wonky. The uniforms in Star Trek Picard are the worst sort of fanfiction, and Discovery has turned their uniforms basically into fluffy pajamas. In fact, so has Prodigy. Everything’s pajamas.

They’re weird. Asymmetrical with a very high waist extending well into the abdomen. The white and gray color scheme is actually a bit reminiscent of the motion picture, which is not a story you want to be evoking. You’re still trying to go with the shoulder motif, but it feels more like those sloppy gray jumpsuits that we would see extras wearing anytime the next generation crew beam down to a science lab on any given episode of the week. I’m not digging them, and they feel uninspired to me. There’s some talk that they could change again though – that these are kind of “experimental” uniforms 9and comm badges too) because it’s an experimental ship. Dan and Kevin Hageman explained in an interview with Inverse;

“Since the USS Protostar is an experimental starship, we felt it gave us some freedom to create our own uniform design, as long as it fit alongside the uniforms of this era. We, [executive producer] Ben Hibon, and our design team spent a lot of time discussing the badge and uniforms. We had to balance the style of our series, while also recognizing these kids aren’t actually anywhere close to being Starfleet Officers, which is why we went for a stripped-down design.”

On the other hand, the series itself continues to be good. We’re heading back for a showdown with the big bad, and they left us on a cliffhanger… Predictably. I can’t complain though, the twists keep coming and in an earnest way this genuinely feels like Star Trek. It outweighs the bad uniforms. If I have one complaint, it’s a moment where the purple captain Dal complains about heading back to base down the big bad guy. “After all we’ve been through, after all we’ve done… I don’t wanna lose you“ he says half referring to albino Gywn and half referring to the rest of the crew.

After all you’ve done? It’s been eight episodes. One of those was a two-parter that introduces all of you. One of those was another two-parter, and one of the other episodes pretty much takes place just on the holiday. You guys have had four adventures, tops. That’s hardly “all we’ve been through“ territory. I could see him making this kind of a common after a full 20 episode season, but it’s been eight!

Still, we’ve built up enough interest and intrigue here, and I’ve got real high hopes for a second season. Nothing ever seems to get canceled over in the Star Trek department of Paramount right now, and this, this is actually good for a change. I can’t wait to see how they resolve that this week.

Superman and Lois is back as well. It’s another one that I was vaguely aware starting up again, but haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and watch. We’re three episodes in, so not hard to catch up on over a Saturday afternoon.

One of my friends told me he’d heard it was getting really melodramatic this season. Well, it’s a CW show. It’s gonna be like that. Actually, I think what I’ve noticed more than anything else, is how predictable this season has been so far. After a good season opener which really feels more like the resolution for all of last year… I could watch this one episode and have closure for the series… It’s easy to see a couple of things. Lana is going to run for mayor, Jordan’s girlfriend Sarah cheated on him while she was at camp, and there’s a monster in the mine which is connected to the seizures Superman’s having. Also, Steel and his daughter Natalie are going to end up bunking with the Kents in Smallville.

By the end of the third episode, I had pretty much been proven right on every point. That’s not to say that the series has gone downhill, it just feels very average this year. I’m not having that ear piercing squeals of delight at the end of each show as I was last year, but then again, “average” on this series is actually still better than “great” on a lot of other CW DC properties.

I’m rolling my eyes a little bit at the fact that Sarah cheated on Jordan with another girl… We gotta get that forced tokenized diversity in there! Even if it means changing up a character who previously hadn’t shown any indications of same-sex attraction. I’m going to be very annoyed if they go through the predictable route and have her together with John Henry’s daughter Natalie by the end of this season. Nevertheless, I suspect that’s where this is going. I also didn’t like the little dig at the US at the beginning of episode one. Yes, I understand Superman’s a citizen of the world, but there’s always been a balance between that and Truth Justice and the American Way.

(from Superman #713, July 2011)

It’s all small stuff, they’re not pushing it in our face, and 10 years ago, it have been easier to just kind of let fly by. But with the generally woke direction that most CW shows go, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop here, and I’m hoping that’s not it. This is still the Best Superman we’ve gotten in well over a decade, and still possibly the best Lois Lane ever. It’s really good to see Lois and Clark dealing with parents all the issues, teenage boys and raging hormones, break ups and high school drama. And amid all that, seeing them admit to their own insecurities and doubts. Still the best superhero show on the CW, and a really great version of Superman. Looks like we’ve got a very interesting big bad this year too. I know they were kind of trying to fool us into thinking that thing in the mine was going to be Doomsday, and that suit was dead on. Unfortunately, IMDb ruined the identity for me about 30 minutes early when I went to look up the name of one of the actors. Aargh!

Last but not least, The Flash is back. Something that was interesting last year was just how much we weren’t talking about this year’s crossover in my social circles. My friends actually made a point to mention it’s weird how there’s no build up for Armageddon, no hype, nobody seems to care.

What’s interesting is, this really isn’t a proper crossover anyhow. It helps if you go in understanding this. What Armageddon is is a Flash miniseries. This is absolutely based on the Flash, and on his current team. Cisco Ramon seems to finally be gone for good but we’re getting plenty of other cameos.

And that’s the thing. While we do actually get a pretty full episode with Ray Palmer A.k.a. the Atom, Alex Danvers literally phoned in her cameo in for the next episode. It’s a head and shoulder shot on a video screen for a couple of minutes while she does some research for the team. Black Lightning is a little better, probably spending an entire day shooting in the hall of justice along with Barry. But really, if you’re looking for one of those epic events like we got with Crisis, you’re gonna be disappointed. in fact, if you’re even expecting one of those fun one-note crossovers like Arrow vs. The Flash or Barry showing up on Supergirl….no. It’s not really even that. These are walk-ons.

If on the other hand, you remember that this is just a Flash miniseries, you’ll do fine. The format actually works really well for The Flash. The series, even in its eighth season is keeping up to the kind of average feel it had last year. It’s not spectacular, but it didn’t run out of gas the way I thought it would. It’s actually nice to see everybody again, and especially nice to spend some time with Brandon Routh playing the Atom. Watching Ray and Barry pall around during the first episode just feels right. It feels like an issue of Justice League or a comic book where they just happen to slip a guest star in. That may be one of the things that we’ve missed about some of these characters. The fact that it’s not so much that they’re team flash, or team arrow, or legends, but rather that they are all part of the whole… DC… Super friends…family… Thing. It’s also enjoyable to see Vincent van Gogh from Doctor Who chewing the scenery as a big CGI version of Despero. The costume is a little weird, but the face is dead on.
Is it just me though, or did they cut the budget this year? The CGI third eye on the Despero‘s forehead seems off and cheap. It often feels like they’re having a hard time tracking it and keeping it in the right place. Perhaps it’s just because the eye itself moves and looks around, but either way it gives the impression that the CG overlay is off. It’s distracting. Fortunately, Despero isn’t a front and center most of the time, with this adventure focusing very squarely on team flash and their own investigation.

Episode four is probably where we get the closest to the feel of a real crossover. Barry finds himself in an alternate future, where the team includes Batwoman and Alex Danvers, back for a more meatier role. It’s a flashpoint, or rather a “reverse flashpoint“ created by the Reverse Flash. The end result is he and Barry have changed places with Barry being the villain and him being the hero, and also the team is shuffled into different characters now. It also features the return of Damien Darhk, but really, recurring villains don’t exactly make for a satisfying crossover reunion. And this is anything but a reunion. Not only is it that woman, it’s the new Ryan Wilder Batwoman, not the version played by Ruby Rose that the team had previously associated with. It’s an alternate universe, so I guess it can make sense, but we really don’t have any connection to this character in this contex, and Alex? Well she’s really just a friend of a friend at best. Sure, she attended Barry’s wedding, but it was just as Kara’s plus one. She makes sense as somebody that they happen to know in the DEO doing them a favor, but it’s part of the team,… Let’s just say I don’t feel like we’re getting the A-list anymore.

It doesn’t really matter though, they’re essentially background characters. There are obstacles for Barry to get around as he and Damien Darhk do their best to restore the previous version of reality… Something that will not only save Joe West, but also Damien‘s daughter.

That’s interesting… I’ll get back to that in a minute.

The rest of the heroes though, you could’ve plugged in any one of the random Legends or characters from outside the Arrowverse – Doom Patrol, swamp thing, Stargirl… And the story would’ve basically played out the same. However, that woman really needs the ratings boost and the CW is still trying to pretend that Supergirl didn’t stink for the last few seasons. I get the impression that that’s what these particular pics were all about. That, and the fact that there aren’t enough lesbians in The Flash.

Tom Cavanagh however, is a welcome return. He slides right back into the role, and feels like family. You almost forget that he quit the series halfway last year. I’m glad to see him back, and to be fair, it’s kind of nice to see him stick around for more than one episode.

Barry rights the world here, but we still have episode five to go… And this installment is really a glorified epilogue. I guess star on this one is Mia, daughter of Green Arrow, and taking up his mantle in the future. She’s here to kill Reverse Flash and find her brother. So we get 42 minutes of will-they-won’t-they, and of all the episodes, this one feels the most like filler. That’s something all the crossover stories have, they tend to stretch themselves out just a tad too long, and this one is no exception. On the other hand, it’s a nice time visiting with familiar faces, and like I said, I’m really happy to see Cavanaugh stick around for just a little bit longer. The story is one part crossover, one part filler, and one part set up for when Mia inevitably returns later on in the season. I don’t really mind that, she feels like she belongs here. It’s an interesting legacy though I’ll admit, for me, she doesn’t quite radiate Ali‘s presence yet. I felt Oliver‘s participation in this crossover farmer keenly during the fight between Flash and Black Lightning back in the hall of justice. Flash crashes through the glass case where all these green arrow suit is capped, and his gaze just falls on the bow, as it lays there on the floor. It’s a poignant moment and a reminder that Green Arrow is always with us.

For his part, Barry is very well suited to take over Ollie’s place as the elder statesman of the arrow verse. It’s a good role for him, and if this miniseries does anything it proves that the show still has some life in it. All the characters have really fallen into place and come into their own. Chester has evolved beyond being just Black Cisco, and Iris‘s assistant just feels natural by her side at the Central City Citizen. I almost feel like this team is firing on all cylinders again, probably thanks to having enough time to ramp up this year and execute a story properly, rather than the truncated and strange schedule that the plague afforded us last year. Of course, we only get these five episodes, and the series goes back into hibernation through January and February. The good thing is, the miniseries format actually kind of suits The Flash now this far in, and it also makes for an easily digestible binge watch over the weekend. It’s actually got me looking forward a bit to see what they do next month.

There was something else though that struck me this weekend as I caught up on my DC shows. It’s in the back of my mind with Stargirl as well… Which I’m hoping to go back and catch up on this coming weekend. A theme that I’m noticing here, is fatherhood. There is an immense focus on fatherhood and how necessary fathers are. I’m not saying that it’s completely new, we’ve always had a kicking around with Joe West, but I feel a renewed emphasis on it right now. Not just with the inherent nature of Superman and Lois, but also the relationship between Lana‘s husband Kyle and their daughter Sarah… Buying an old car for them to fix up – a father daughter project.

It’s in Stargirl‘s relationship with her stepfather. This guy, not just taking on the role of father, but mentor. It’s tough enough being a dad, but raising a superhero? And they treat it with such respect. He’s not just a bumbling goof, he’s a little dorky, but he also knows stuff. He’s also right.

Moreover, the last two episodes of the flash were all about fatherhood. All about Damien Darhk, a villain, teaming up with a hero because it meant that he could save his daughter. It was the Absolute anguish on her face when she just got one moment to see him as they both passed through realities. Heck, it was even Team Flashes investigation into Joe West death that really allowed them to solve the greater mystery of Armageddon. There’s really an unusual emphasis on fatherhood that I’m seeing in this last 18 months or so on The CW, and I like it. I’m hoping I see more of it.

Stargirl next week? Maybe?

 

 


Star Trek : Prodigy

Star Trek Prodigy is back after its brief holiday hiatus. I kind of lost some momentum with the show during the break, so I keep forgetting that it’s on. However, I managed to catch up this weekend, and I’m still a fan.

Star Trek Prodigy is surprisingly episodic, though there is an overarching story with the bad guy who’s mining colony they escaped from. He’s still searching for them and more importantly, for the ship.

But that’s really not the big news. That’s not the thing that makes this work. It’s far from Star Trek Discovery or Picard, both of which traded optimistic humanism for nihilism and have mistaken cynicism for wisdom and original thought. It’s also not Star Trek Lower Decks which feels like it was somebody learning as much as they could about Star Trek just so they can trash the fans.  They’re not laughing with us, they’re laughing at us. Really. They said it out loud.

No, Prodigy feels different… Almost like… Star Trek?

One of the big differences that I’m noticing in the series is that it’s an ensemble. It’s a diverse group of misfits. And in this case, it’s truly diverse. Whereas on Star Trek Discovery, diversity just means no straight white men… (In fact as few men as possible, thanks)  In Star Trek Prodigy, we have male and female, each a different race with their own personalities and quirks. Much of the current crop of Star Trek doesn’t bother developing personalities, rather their entire characterization is the superficial… “I’m the black one”, “This is the gay one”, “That’s the black gay one!”… And the only characters getting any real development are their leads.  Star Trek Picard is entirely focused on deconstructing Jean-Luc Picard, whereas Star Trek Discovery is all about the almost Christlike perfection of Michael Burnham. They’re definitely the stars of their shows.

Star Trek Prodigy doesn’t have a star. It has an ensemble.

Thing is, this is really were Star Trek shines. It’s the thing that always worked about Star Trek. Even back to the original series, where the idea was to have a star in William Shatner, the show very quickly shifted into team mode… No longer just being about Captain Kirk, but being about Kirk Spock and McCoy as one unit… And even the second string characters each got their moments (especially Chekov and Scotty who really got development in the later seasons). Likewise, Prodigy is very much an ensemble. It’s not just about Dal, the purple captain. It’s not just about Gwyn, the albino white girl with the AWSOME thought metal sword-armlet-thing, or big rock girl ( Rok-Tahk is consistently my favorite character on this show, although gelatinous Murph comes in as a close second). It’s not even about hologram Janeway, arguably the most recognizable element of the series. She’s not the lead, but she’s also not just a supporting character. Everyone has equal weight, everyone gets equal development, everyone has equal importance. They work together to make something really special.

I mentioned in a previous post, because it’s set and the far-flung reaches the universe, and I don’t even know what time period it is, it’s not quite so burdened by the continuity. It allows it to restart. That’s a smart thing. This is very much intro to Star Trek, a good way to ease new viewers into the series. The characters act as our avatars, as they discover things like the holodeck, the transporter, the replicators, and more importantly… they’re discovering the heart that always drove Star Trek. The character, and the engaging storytelling. Unburdened by continuity, or the preachiness of current year politics, We go on adventure after adventure, experiencing first contact for the first time. We’re dipping our toe in the Kobyashi Maru, and experimenting with phasers and communicators and tricoders and discovering a few secrets that this long lost ship just might have its own.

Also because they’re experiencing all these things for the first time, because it’s all new to them, it doesn’t quite feel like just gratuitous ‘member berries when we see a hologram of Spock show up, or a picture of one of the old ships, or note that phaser designs, while streamlined, or awfully familiar (and, man…what IS it with the fetishization of the arrowhead/delta insigina in all these new series?).

In shows like Star Trek Picard and Star Trek Lower Decks, it feels like they’re just throwing as much of this stuff at the screen as possible to try and remind you “Remember how you used to like Star Trek? Remember the Klingons? You love the Klingons! Remember 10 forward? You love 10 forward!“ It’s all very shoehorned in there. Here, it feels more natural. They are discovering these things with the audience, and it feels new. The fact that there’s Klingon writing on the side of that cloaking device in the junk pile? That’s for the old viewers. Something for us to spot (but with no attention drawn to it) while the new viewers get to discover what a cloaking device is in the first place. It’s organic and natural.

I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this. Along with a lot of the traditional Star Trek designs and tropes, we get some stunning alien designs, and some real innovation. One of the bigger shortfalls of Star Trek in the late 90s, was everything started to look the same. You had the same people working on the show for 20 years, and the alien computer started to really resemble the federation ones. The lines of the ship were kinda distinct, but still felt a little too similar to everything we’ve seen before. Prodigy goes out and creates wild creatures and landscapes, trying very hard to go where no one has gone before… While still trying to maintain a reasonably familiar, comfortable look inside the Federation ship. Everything around it though, it’s so new and fresh, that the protostar ship almost feels out of place, The Federation vessel becoming the alien itself.

We’re better than halfway through the season, and we’ve had some good episodes and some filler episodes. We’ve had some things that were shocking, like watching the bad guy sneak onto the ship in the most innovative way possible, and these bad guys are genuinely frightening. We’ve had some real character development in just about everybody, and watching this team start to gel, and really become a crew. 

Look, if you’re not watching Star Trek Prodigy, this is the one to really give a try. So far I’ve enjoyed everything about it. I gave both Star Trek Picard and Star Trek Discovery a good long chance (and I’m disappointed that my faith wasn’t justified – though you can actually see the cracks even as far back as my earliest Discovery blog posts https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/star-trek-discovery/ ). And it didn’t take long for me to realize these are not good shows. That they’re just not Star Trek. Honestly, I’ve been burned so much at this point, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never does. Star Trek Prodigy is solid Star Trek, and the absolute best thing to come out of Paramount+ and Secret Hideout.

 


Murderdrome

Murderdrome opens in a roller derby locker room then jumps right into action. It’s a good way to get you engaged immediately. High energy music, a happy audience and skating sets the tone. There’s some flirting going on outside of the match, making one of the other the girls jealous. Then straight over to listen to the band,  followed by make out sessions in a vintage car.

All in all, it’s a very Daniel Armstrong way of opening the film, but I’m now about 12 minutes in and I’m still not sure what this movies going to be about. The roller punk with a Cleaver is a step in the right direction.

Back inside, the roller derby is in full swing. As an unseen lurker watches.

Leather clad Australian murderpunks lure pigtail rollerderby girl back into the roller rink where they engage in a brutal game of murder derby, where they end up setting one of their pillows on fire, and then just exploding out of existence… Leaving nothing but a talisman. Pigtail girl tries to pick it up but gets blasted into oblivion as well.
Don’t worry, it was just a dream. Or was it!?

When she wakes up, her hapless boyfriend, with a charm necklace for her… the one from her dream. That’s enough for her to fall for him, and drag him out on a rollerskating date. (Because that’s obviously a thing in OZ!)

Dead body, and creepy janitor cart dude explains that she’s unleashed a demonic force.

Then we go to a bizarre commercial for a frisbee hat… it’s all good, it’s just the ad before a murderdrone video on YouTube. She’s basically trying to research what she saw that night. Things go bad when one of the mean girl skaters comes and steals her necklace. Bad as in, a cleaver to the head for one of the girls when they try to escape.
Metal murder punk chase!

Meanwhile, the mean girls are looking for our heroes, but there are murder roller punks between them and the others.

Heavy on spectacle, Murderdrome is well shot and fun, though the lighting can get on the harsh side. It’s very much is the sort of ozsploitation that Armstrong is a great at. the problem is that it’s thin on the story. Even with its meager running time of about an hour, there’s quite enough to fill this whole thing up. There’s an a Normas amount of flair in style, that’s all it is. It’s all flash, but not enough substance. Of all of Armstrong‘s films, this is the one that felt the most confusing. Still, it’s a fun bit of shlock, (seriously, chick has to retrieve the talisman from a dismembered body that’s been tossed in pieces into a dumpster… That’s some pretty hardcore stuff !), drifting from set piece to set piece in a world that feels like it’s just beginning to intersect with the likes of Mad Max. This is one of those movies I’d really love to see a redo on – a remake with a thicker script and a more flushed out concept, more fully explain to the audience.

 

 


Week of 9/20/21 Stargirl and What If?

So, I finally caught up on Stargirl, and got through the first five episodes over the weekend. It’s a show that I watch with my teenage daughter, so schedules frequently don’t mash and I’m perpetually behind. Even now, I’m a single episode behind… That is until the new one premieres tonight!

Stargirl was really the highlight of my television last year. Not only are you pretty much guaranteed to get my attention by invoking and flashing back to golden age DC with characters in the Justice Society,, but it’s also just generally good rollicking superhero fun, heavy on characterization and action, and light on ideology… Sort of the opposite of what the CW’s pattern has increasingly been. Courtney, Stargirl herself is a good character, but even more daring is the fact that instead of going through the bad Dad trope, they actually explore her complex relationship with her stepfather, played by Luke Wilson who steals every scene he’s in. There is resentment there but there’s also some genuine affection there, with a Dad who’s just trying to do the best he can, and isn’t portrayed as bumbling or stupid… But perhaps a little overwhelmed sometimes.

After defeating the Injustice Society last year, series kind of has to start fresh this year, and giving it the whole “Summer School“ hook was a delightful idea. It probably would’ve worked better if the show had managed to premier back in July or so, but I understand that the plague has wreaked havoc on shooting schedules so I’m willing to give them a little slack… Especially when the end result is as fun as this.

The evil daughter Shiv is back, trying to rebuild her parent’s Injustice Society with the kids of the original members. Obviously, that’s going to be the main baddie this year, right? Except there’s something awfully familiar about the black crystal that she’s using and channeling for power. The first episode opens with one of the creepiest little kid sequences I’ve seen in a long time, and even my daughter immediately realized… Eclipso was coming. The Shade also arrives this season as well. The Shade’s been a regular villain when it comes to this legacy, I’ve just finished reading James Robinson‘s excellent Starman run from the 90s, and the Shade is all over that thing. True to form, he’s a villain, but sometimes he’s not… Again, complex. Serious props for challenging writing here.

In the meantime, the gang is all back, and facing their own issues. Hourman still feels isolated and is feeding something that I suspect is Solomon Grundy related in the woods. Dr. Midnight is dealing with her parents divorce, and Wildcat is still trying to reconcile the fact that she killed Brainwave Junior. I know that’s a lot of gobbledygook to throw at you all at once, but it’s genuinely good stuff and propels the whole series developing forward. Despite this, there’s actually a noticeable lack of attractive people standing in hallways talking about their feelings. It’s still there, but not nearly as present as in say, The Flash.


Once we hit episode five though… remember how in the last third of Superman and Lois, it seems like every episode I was saying “this feels like a season finale cliffhanger… Or a penultimate episode right before the season finale“. Stargirl goes right ahead and does it in episode five, with a face off of the new injustice society versus the justice society which results in Eclipso being freed. And man, Eclipso does not disappoint. The make up and look is dead on, increased in detail for television, and every bit as terrifying as I remember him from those crossovers in the mid 90s. It’s shockingly effective. I guess that means I really got a find a good way to bribe Maddie to sit down and catch up on last week and this weeks episode… Because I’m dying to know what happens. Perhaps if I bribe her with more episodes of He-Man

What if continues to be the strongest of all the marvel television series. Perhaps it’s because it’s not truly bound to continuity (yes, I know some stupid editor said “it’s all in continuity”. That’s not really the case, even if you rationalize multiverse nonsense.) but also because it very much feels like episodic MCU. Really, that’s what the movies have been trying to do for a while now, but to get it chopped up and served in bite size half hour portions every week, with different elements of the MCU, played by the same people and featuring the same look in environments… It’s actually really satisfying.

I once said I prefer Doctor Strange in other peoples movies rather than his own, I’m beginning to wonder after his What If episode, if it’s just that I prefer him in smaller doses. What if Doctor Strange lost his heart instead of his hands actually feels like it could be its own standalone thing within continuity, if they just tweak the end. It’s actually a nice visit with a good doctor in that world, and takes some chances with some of the dark themes it uses. Of course it’s not nearly as dark as Marvel Zombies. My daughter is a huge fan of marvel zombies, she’s collected all the comics, and this is actually the episode they got her into What If. I agree with her assessment, Watching this episode just makes me want an animated marvel zombies series on it’s own. It’s that good. It captures an interesting variety of heroes from different films, and while there’s a decision with the vision that I don’t entirely agree with, it’s really nice to see Tom Holland’s Spider-Man here, as well as getting to see Doctor Strange’s cape, with it’s own distinct personality, acting on its own again. That of course brings us to last weeks episode… A little bit of light-hearted fun before things get serious in the last two. What if Thor never had the maturing influence of a rival like Loki… and had just essentially grown up to be a giant frat boy. I feel like I should take some offense of this, but it’s so much fun and has us laughing so much through it… Also it manages to feature Howard the Duck, and Darcy; two of my favorite characters in the MCU. Can we please get a Howard the Duck series? Put it on right after the marvel zombies series… That’s all I’m asking!

It’s been a fun week, and if you get tired of superhero stuff, pop over to Netflix… There is a new season of nailed it up there, which is the most entertaining (if a bit mean-spirited) baking show you’ll ever see.

 


He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

 

I wasn’t expecting much. But at least the show was being honest about what it was. It’s a pure reboot, almost a reboot in name only. They wern’t lying to the fans abotu what it would be #kevinsmithlied , They wern’t pulling a bait and switch #kevinsmithlied , and they wern’t attacking fans as they made what few promotional rounds they did #kevinsmithlied (I just can’t let it go. I lost a great deal of respect for Smith over Revelation. #kevinsmithlied You are no longer a “Man of the people” dude. No longer a dude even. Just another hollywood shill. #kevinsmithlied ) I was just expecting a kids show, with kids tropes and kidspeak.  I was never expecting to be so pulled in.

We didn’t talk about Masters of the Universe Revelation on this blog because it probably would’ve been just 1200 words of me griping and moaning about how #KevinSmithLied, and how trying to deconstruct a heroic and pure character like He-Man…or for that matter, Superman or The Lone Ranger, that sort of deconstruction never really works. Even in the Dolph Lundgren film, where things were grittier and more violent and darker, He Man is still pure. He’s still heroic. He’s not haunted and troubled and angsty. Even worse, he’s not actually in Revelation. Oh sure, he shows up for perhaps two minutes an episode in flashbacks (I know, I timed it), but he’s not actually part of the show. Rather it’s Teela that’s the main character… A subject that has been covered endlessly and far better on far better channels and blogs than mine. But really, did they have to make her such a aunt towards everyone she encounters? (Wait, did auto-correct just… Never mind.)


Netflix’s new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe makes none of these mistakes. This is an ensemble piece, with characters that are genuinely likable. Strong female characters that don’t have to tear down the men to be strong, strong male characters that don’t have to disrespect the women to be strong. It’s actually good stuff. Pure heroics, good and evil. The real hook here is that they flipped the script. Masters of the Universe has always been a heavy fantasy-based adventure with dashes of sci-fi in it. This however, is heavy sci-fi with dashes of fantasy in it. And it works. It genuinely does. It’s everything that I wish the ill-fated 1990s New Adventures of He-Man was.

Because it’s current year, they have to do some race and gender swapping, but because this is genuinely something completely new, I find that it’s not bothering me nearly as much as usual. Teela is a dark skinned girl with white hair, and not related to man at arms. They’re both young… Everybody’s young. She’s already a sorceress, so we’re kind of short cutting her legacy and plunging her right into it, redefining the character in a different role in this sci-fi technoscape. Ram Man has been gender swapped to be Ram Ma’am. It’s the dumbest name and drew the most ridicule during commercials, as well it deserved. However, this character is so well thought out, she gets more backstory and depth than poor old Rammy ever did. It’s impossible not to like her. Krass (I swear I thought the name was CRASH -and it SHOULD HAVE BEEN! Seems more appropriate) may actually be my favorite character of this reboot.

Cringer has a new role here as well. Because we don’t have man at arms available to be the wise old mentor, that role has actually been passed on to Cringer. It’s a dramatic departure from what we’ve seen before but, they actually give us an interesting backstory for him, why he has that name, and a real reason for his aspirations to hunt and fight. It has every bit the depth and emotion that Revelation promised, without the whining and angst.

The other big criticism I saw the series was that Orko is now a robot. And that’s true… Sort of. Robots are common in the society ( technology is just a fact of their existence. Almost Star Wars in the matter of fact attitude they have towards it). The little floaty guys are everywhere. Orko is a re-programmed bot who has been input with the memories of the Trollan sorcerer Orko The Great. So now he thinks he is Orko the great… And part of his journey is learning that this isn’t his real identity, as well as figuring out who he actually is. He’s still the comic relie

f, and he’s quite adorable. I was never one of those that hated him, and this new incarnation is more fun than it has a right to be. It fits into the series, rather than just being dropped in for no reason. There’s a build up and a real journey here. Don’t expect to see him until about halfway through. In fact, don’t expect to see any of the villains in full garb until well past halfway through. There is a real story arc here, despite being episodic. The entire series is very much a learning curve story, something I’ve always enjoyed. This whole thing is a slow build up with constant cliffhangers that left me seizing the remote to furiously hit the next episode button – which led me to binge it in two days. Two nice and easy morning sessions, about two hours each. At 10 episodes it’s easy enough to get through, and absolutely left me wanting more. This sort of reboot is not only what I wished new adventures had been, it’s the sort of reboot I wished Princesses of Power would’ve been. I set my 15-year-old down to watch it with me on our weekly television night. She and her sister grew up watching the 80s He-Man and She-Ra on DVD with me, as well as playing with the toys. She knows the series, and while she’s not quite as invested as I am, if the producers were doing it wrong,  it’d be just as likely to piss her off as it is me.


She loved it.

Teela just fasciantes her and she absolutely loves the alternate costume. Krass keeps throwing out lines that she insists need to be motivational posters . (“Every problem can be solved by ramming them with my helmet!”). Neither of us can get the theme song out of our heads. She wants more, and so do I. I had planned on passing on the action figures… I’m not a huge fan of the distorted character design, but it sort of melts away as I watched the series, and now that I’ve finished it, I need every one of these toys. Seriously, I need a second season, and quick. Please Netflix more of this. More He-Man and the Masters of the universe, and less Revelation ( #kevinsmithlied ). I’m totally ready for a new adventure.

 


Catching up on What If?

Of all the marvel cinematic universe shows, the two that I have been looking forward to the most were Loki and What If?. I’m still sad that Loki was such a disappointment, but so far, What If? has fared much better. The thing that strikes me so much about it though is it’s very MCU. This is not merely pulling random marvel characters and doing an imaginary story, this is laser focused on reasonably prominent MCU supporting characters and very interested in re-creating scenes from some of the great Marvel movies -largely fro phase one. The attention to detail is beautiful, the actual actors of been brought into voice their character is wherever possible, and I never feel like I’m looking at a generic re-creation. Backgrounds look like they’re straight out of the films. The costume design still has a very Marvel cinematic feel. I’ve had some people tell me that the animation is a little off-putting, particularly around the eyes. I find that interesting because to me it’s perfect. It actually reminds me a great deal of the animation style used in the MTV Spiderman cartoon that took place between the first and second Raimi movies (It’s underrated, and doesn’t get nearly enough respect. Bridged that gap, and added a great deal more depth to those films. We could’ve used another season in between two and three for that matter!).

There’s still some politically correct elements in here that we probably wouldn’t have paid nearly as much attention to five years ago before The woke went on steroids. I’m perfectly willing to give that stuff a pass… Captain Carter has no real heroes journey, but her strength isn’t at the expense of Steve Rogers he still gets to be a hero and sacrifice. His character is very evident in What If?. There’s some opportunistic journalists right now capitalizing on saying T’Challa is a better star lord than Peter Quill, but he’s really not. He’s just different. A different focus, and apparently Black Panther has a Secret power that everyone just automatically likes him. They should really make that a thing, like X forces domino having a knack for things just naturally falling into place. Then again, Quill starting off being flawed and learning to be a hero was the entire point wasn’t it? If anything, that robbed T’Challa of any character development or heroes journey.

Episode three benefits greatly from being able to showcase most of the original MCU Avengers as well as being focused and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. There’s an interesting twist that just touches a bit on the later films, but for the most part is still heavily rooted in the early and best of the MCU, something that’s really appealing.

All in all though, I think I’m enjoying what is the most of all of the MCU TV series, and I hope it keeps up the quality. It’s fun, it’s episodic, and is really exactly the sort of thing that I’m looking for… A chance to dip my toe in the Marvel universe, without having to commit to three hours, and whatever her social agenda is fashionable this week.

Next week I really ought to catch up on StarGirl.

 


Superman and Lois Return, Loki concludes!

First and foremost, I’d like to thank The Flash for not making me wait two weeks to resolve a cliffhanger the way that Superman and Lois has. The Godspeed war has been consistent, fun, intense, and genuinely good stuff. I still wish they’d stop race swapping characters, but at least Impulse was fairly well done.

Over on Superman and Lois, my biggest observation is that Elizabeth Tulloch just keeps getting better. I look at her, and I just see Lois Lane. She may be the best Lois I’ve ever seen… and that’s saying something. It’s a hard role. You have to balance softness and femininity and the occasional damsel in distress role with being hard-nosed, persistent, brilliant, and brave enough to give off a vibe of this isn’t the first time I’ve had a gun in my face. Some Loises veer too soft, like Amy Adams, Noelle Neil, and even sometimes Teri Hatcher. Others just get way too hard, like Margot Kidder, or Kate Bosworth. Phyllis Coates may have been the only one I ever saw balance it perfectly for her era, but Elizabeth Tulloch’s version is unprecedented in how well-rounded it is.

It may help that she’s at a different time of life. She’s emotionally grounded with her two sons, and we don’t have the on-again off-again, will they won’t they, Superman or Clark debate. She’s chosen Clark, and in fact, was never so shallow as to be infatuated with Superman. I like that. And either way, knowing that they end up together and have established this long lasting relationship, it adds character and depth and just makes her more likable. But she’s still tenacious, she’s still a reporter, and a force to be reckoned with.

I put all this out there, because this week is really her episode. We do get some stellar stuff with John Henry Irons as Steel, but with Superman being mind controlled on the other side of the planet, this episode is really all about Lois taking charge, convincing them not to kill Superman, and trying to support Lana’s family as they suffer the backlash from the community that got possessed by alien beings. The series is just so good, and Steel looks great (although he needs a better helmet). But I got plenty of resolution, in fact, once again I almost feel like it’s the end of the season… Even though I know it’s not. Edge is imprisoned and still planning something nefarious.

As good as the Flash and Superman were, we then have… Loki. Seriously, what happened to Loki?

After such a great episode last week, we come back for the series finale, and… nothing happens. This episode is literally just people talking at each other. Mostly people talking at each other from one side of the desk to the other. It’s an oral history of the marvel multi-verse. That’s all. Nothing happened. Even during a brief sword fight, it really is only there to mask the fact that they’re still just talking back-and-forth. I am utterly disappointed, and genuinely bored. And I’m getting an enormous amount of heat from Loki STANS online, not just because I think it was a wasted opportunity, but because I didn’t think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Literally. I tried to find nice things to say about it, amazing music, beautiful imagery, and I mean that. It IS a gorgeous show, with some of the best music I’ve ever heard in television. There was also one cute bit that made Miss Minuets, the animated clock girl look very sinister – but after that intro, nothing happens! Not a single thing happens in this episode! It’s all just exposition… and me saying that seems to offend some people. The common response is “it’s setting up phase 4!“ I’ve heard that 1000 times. I understand. I agree actually, Kang is the big bad and it’s setting up the multi-verse. But there still was no story to this series! Iron Man set up the MCU. So did Thor, so did Captain America. And all of them manage to tell individual adventures while setting up the universe. They didn’t just info dump us and walk away. I literally had somebody tell me “I’m tired of adventures, I just want to see the set up for the new movies and the character development!“ Well that’s not really what the MCU is it? It’s comic book adventures. You want a balance between worldbuilding and story (interestingly, episode five hit that balance perfectly). Say 80% story and 20% world building. Loki has that ratio flipped on it’s head, completely backwards. Of all the MCU TV shows, this one has had the absolute LEAST story.

Moreover, there’s no character development here. Loki is the same person at the end of the series that he was in the beginning. He’s not even a character, he’s a sounding board for exposition who occasionally provides positive affirmation for Girl Loki. And Sylvie? She’s also the same character from the beginning to the end. She is the best Loki ever, and that’s all. There’s no heroes journey, there’s no great awakening, the series just… Is. Someone tried to tell me this is a masterclass in storytelling. (You’d have to tell a story for that to be true). Someone actually told me I need to read Shakespeare and I’ll appreciate it more (Shows how little they know about me. Also, try Wagner instead. Loki is far more rooted in the epic northern tales than in Elizabethan England).

I don’t hate Loki (although the MCU stans are really making me dislike it more every day) but I am disappointed. This could’ve been so much more. This could’ve been Doctor Who and Rick and Morty on crack. And it should’ve been. Instead, all we got was a history textbook. A D&D source book. Tom Hiddleston (Who is still brilliant in the role – pity he isn’t given anything to do) staring charmingly at the camera, but no storytelling, character development or adventure of any sort. I could cut this thing down into a 100 minuet film and still get all the necessary world building and character introductions in with better pacing and less filler. (About 80% of episode one, the Sylvie stuff from two, all of episode five and about ten minuets of three, four and six).

All I can say, is I hope What If and Hawkeye are better.